Appearances and publications 2020

January 2020

  • Flash in Hand Open Mic. Compered and read my historical flash fiction, Marguerite and the Moon

February 2020

  • Read at the Bath Flash Fiction Award launch event of Flash Fiction Four Anthology and One Eye on the Cows. At this event I read, the flash fiction, ‘The Trip,’ published in the Flash Fiction Anthology
  • Novel Nights: I interviewed Jane Shemilt on characterisation.

Appearances and publications 2019

January 2019

  • 1st January 2019. My story Damson Day is published in Issue 17 of Riggwelter Press. Page 23 with my story Damson Day publication
  • 10th January 2019. I begin teaching An Introduction to Creative Writing at Bristol Folk House
  • 19th January 2019. I’m reading at the launch of the Flash Fiction Festival Two anthology. I’m delighted that my story Shrodinger’s Wild Cat is published in the  anthology. Flash Fiction Two, a book of short fiction is available from Ad Hoc Fiction. 

February 2019

  • My story, Once the Trees, has been published in the Tales From the Graveyard anthology. I read at the launch event in Arnos Vale Cemetery.

March 2019

  • My collection of flash fiction, In our Dreams We Dance has been long-listed for Ellipses-Zine Novella in Flash Award
  • The same collection was long-listed for the Bath Flash award for Novella in Flash.

April 2019

  • Magma have accepted a poem, Press Officer for the July edition of the journal.
  • Two poems have been long-listed for an anthology with The Emma Press

June 2019

  • National Flash Fiction Day accepted But In our Dreams We Dance in their Flash Fiction Flood
  • National Flash Fiction Day accepted all my entries for their 24 hour prompt series

July 2019

  • Read my poem Press Officer at Foyles for the launch of Magma Work Edition. Also read the poem, Silver Solder

September 2019

  • Rest in Peace published in the Ways to Peace Anthology, On the Edge Publishing

October 2019

  • I set up Flash in Hand with Kevlin Henney and read out flash pieces.

November 2019

  • I’ve been working on the second draft of my novel so submissions out have slowed.

Appearances and publications 2018

Here’s a round-up of some successes in 2018

February 2018

My flash fiction 1971 was selected for the wonderful live story-telling event, Talking Tales, February 2018 

1971

This story is a piece of historical flash about family secrets, about my great-grandmother’s suicide. I read it out to a packed audience at Stokes Croft Writers.

I won’t post it here as I might want to try it out for one of the larger competitions.

March 2018

  • My prose poem, Sound Scrabble, was long listed from over 500 entries for the 2018 Tongues & Grooves Prose Poem Award 2018. I was invited to read my poem out at The Square Tower, in Portsmouth in March.

June 2018 

  • ‘No such thing as a free lunch,’ flash fiction was selected for inclusion on the Flash Walk on National Flash Fiction Day. in June 2018

No Such Thing As A Free Lunch by Grace Palmer. Performer: Poppy Hocken

The skyline’s full of triangle-topped houses but the breeze is blowing in as the tidal bore rises. Martha skips around the M Shed, hop-scotching the train lines, a fat ice cream in her pink hands.

Martha’s Mum looks at her phone, realises she cannot meet her lover.

Martha’s Dad looks at his daughter and thinks he is unbelievably lucky.

When they get to the bacon-hut they place orders for coffees now the wind is up.

Inside, Dave flicks fat onto his apron, dreams of when it will go right. His regulars are chewing the fat and chewing the rind.

Martha’s Mother pays.

And pays. And pays.

  • I attended the Flash Fiction Festival July 2018 and went to workshops with Vanessa Gebbie, Nuala O’Connor, Ingird Jendrzejewski and Carrie Etter
  • My flash fiction, ‘In 1960…’ was accepted for publication by  Flash Back Fiction Publication date is November 2018
  • A short story, ‘Once the Trees,’ has been accepted for an anthology, Tales from the Graveyard, by North Bristol Writers. Publication and launch early in 2019.

September : 

  • A poem, Rest in Peace, was selected and read out at the Ways to Peace festival at Tintern Abbey as part of the Buddhist Ways to Peace Festival
  • Teaching starts at the Folk House with my Introduction to Creative Writing course.

October: I attended Folk Fiction course with Zoe Gilbert, of London Lit Lab.

November 2018

  • I begin teaching a six week course in flash and short stories for Bristol Folk House.
  • November 13th 2018 My story ‘In 1960’ is published in a major UK e-zine, with FlashBack Fiction, 
  • You can hear author questions, an audio recording of the reading and read the story posted on 13th November 2018 on FlashBack Fiction 

December 2018:

  • On December 8th I appeared at Talking Tales and read Marguerite and the Moon, alongside the launch of To Hull and Back Anthology launch.
  • On December 18th, my story Delicado David was broadcast on BBC Radio Bristol on the Adam Crowther Upload Show.

 

On graduating with an MA in Creative Writing

So there I was, cheered on by my children at my graduation ceremony. I’d given myself a year to devote to writing, to plunge more deeply into the world of my novel. It didn’t go exactly as planned.

At times it was excruciating – being forced to consider the mistakes and writing tics that I’d picked up over the years and needed to shed. Frustration at the way the modules were organised so that I wasn’t able to access the tutors I wanted or the modules that were my first choice. And during those first months a depression I couldn’t shift following the death of my nephew, for that, I’m grateful that the university provided a counselling service that helped enormously.

On one of the modules, I was taught by poet, Tim Liardet and wondered how the course and the fellow poets would help my prose. In fact, the writing in that module – where we close studied texts – gave rise to writing that went onto be recognized. My story, ‘The cows are out for spring.’ was long-listed for the Bristol Short Story Prize and ‘Sound Scrabble,’ a flash fiction piece about hearing impairment, long-listed for Tongues and Groove prose poetry competition.

Being amongst serious talent and passionate writers was wonderful. These writers pushed themselves and supported me and others along the way.

After I’d handed in my final 40,000 draft of my novel and the course ended, there was an inevitable sense of disappointment and loss as all the structures that had been provided for us slipped away.

Luckily I belong to a critique group of MA students where we carry on workshopping our works in progress. It is inspiring to see their work and think that their work could be published, (come on, #agents!). And I still belong to Bristol Novelists writing group.

For me personally, the MA had always been a life-long ambition. Back when I finished a creative writing and literature degree at Sheffield Poly I dreamt of doing an MA, but going onto further study seemed out of the question. I needed to work. In my family I was the first to go to university and studying an arts subject was seen as a waste of time and money and a risk. My parents both left school aged fourteen. Although my dad was a great aural storyteller, the keeper of family history and sayings, he told me I was wasting my time going to university. My mum stepped in to support me however and smoothed the way.

While bringing up children the dream of studying remained just that and later as a single mum for years it was also out of the question. It was only when my children were through education and a student loan for post-grad study became available that I contemplated the MA again. I sent off my stories before the deadline, not expecting to even get an interview so was both surprised and delighted to get a place.

Now I’ve finished the MA my new ambition is not to work towards publication but to be published. And that means grafting, sitting down daily with my words and working through the doubt, misgivings and sheer complexity of writing a novel.

My aim is to for my work to be read by others and good enough to land on a literary agents desk and for them to say, yes. 

 

 

Creative Adventure workshop review

My rendezvous point for the outdoor creativity workshop with Creative Adventurer, Morwhenna Woolcock, was the Rock of Ages car park in Burrington Coombe, bounded by limestone rocks, thrusting above us.

The workshop, designed to tap into creativity and an absolute steal at £10, appealed to my sense of adventure.

On a day threatening rain I saw climbers, volunteer litter pickers and some wild goats, high on the rocks, staring down at me. Lorries and motorbikes thrashed through the narrow bypass between the rocks. It was an unsettling start. So much noise in such a beautiful place. And shouldn’t I be writing my novel, finishing off my 40,000 for my MA?

Morwhenna instantly put me at ease and we began chatting and, like the best workshop hosts, she drew out of me a story of what was happening in my creative life at that moment, rather than imposing any ‘rules’ upon me.

I’ve long admired Morwhenna and first heard about her years ago as she developed a project, creating bags with ‘do what you love,’ on them which she left at locations around Bristol with the request that people take them for free, but take photos of them. The bags travelled all around the world, garnering publicity for Morwhenna. Like Morwhenna I’d attended a course called, ‘Screw Work, let’s play,’ with the purpose of achieving a creative project in thirty days. My first project was Novel Nights, which is still going four years later. I loved catching up with her years later to find out how she’s living her creative life.

Morwhenna’s project for 2017 is to travel to all the UK islands and she’s also been running Creative Adventurer courses for a few years with the tagline, ‘An Adventure begins when you decide to have one.’ She was recently featured in Psychologies magazine.

I’m in the middle of an MA and writing my second novel, but stuck with the character and the writing, that nagging feeling that it isn’t quite right. I know I need to go deeper with the writing and the character. Morwhenna asked me to think of a question at the start of the workshop and then forget about it. My tools for the morning were a worksheet of tasks, crayons and Morwhenna’s gentle support and encouragement.

I was given a number of exercises to do. The first was ‘sound mapping,’ to connect with my surroundings and my senses and draw them. Noticing is one of the pre-requisites of a writer. I listened to wind stirring branches in eddies and commented that rain was near. It was something I’d learned as a child – nature craft if you like – but not something I’d thought about for years. ‘Put it in your book,’ she said. Of course! I focused on the noises of lorries and tuned into birdsong and to create a sound map.

In the second exercise, I was invited to use free word association to study and explore a rock that I liked. What did it feel like, what symbols lay within it? What emerged were metaphors and poetic expressions. The exercise put me into a deep writing zone, aligning myself without censure to the subconscious where words bubble and flow from within.

The rock I was drawn to was a striking piece of limestone with a deep split within it. From one angle it looked like a lion’s head. The crevice protected and sheltered plants, lichens and I spotted my favourite flower, a harebell.

Then I saw a small green plaque. This was, fittingly, the Rock of Ages. It was here that the  Rev, Augustus Toplady sheltered from a storm in Burrington Coombe. As the lightning thrashed around him and the rain stung, he scribbled down some lines in 1763, and this flash of literary inspiration has made him famous, with the hymn, still sung today. I sat on the rock, felt it, drew it, delighted that I was drawn to a location which provided inspiration to write.

Later, I discovered a burned twig and drew with the charcoal, a visceral pleasure. Play, as Jeremy Irons said in a previous workshop, is the prerequisite to creativity.

Morwhenna then invited me to explore and notice my surroundings. She made a beautiful art installation and I used a small hand mirror to look at the scenery from a different angle. Try it for a magical effect.

By the end of the session I had, inadvertently answered my question, ‘How can I drop down into my character and writing’, and the answer was not one I was expecting, but it had come from deep within my subconscious and was, (forgive the pun) a rock-solid suggestion to a plotting question I’d been grappling with as if it were a maths puzzle.

The value of the workshop was the way she’d enabled me to focus on my creativity and how it unlocked something deep within the subconscious.

Thank you, Morwhenna. You can find Morwhenna on Facebook   Her Creative Adventure series of workshops take place at outdoor locations around Somerset.

The Bristol Short Story Prize

I’m thrilled that I’ve been long-listed for the Bristol Short Story Prize. This writing competition is prestigious and being mentioned is not only a huge achievement but a huge endorsement of my writing. It’s given me encouragement that what I’m writing has an audience and a future.

This is the fourth year I’ve entered and the first time I’ve been long-listed. Despite the name Bristol in the title, this is an international competition, won for the last couple of years by international writers.

I believed in this story and I’m delighted that at last I’m on the map. I have to wait until 26th July to see if the story has been short-listed. If so it will be published in an anthology, out in October 2017.

In the meantime, don’t give up submitting and writing. Edit your work to make it shine.

Fingers crossed.