The other end of the telescope – a dozen ways to guarantee rejection

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Some great tips for getting rejected from periodicals and competitions. They’ll either make you laugh or blush with shame.

Thanks to Kmelkes for this glimpse from the other end of the telescope.

 

Source: The other end of the telescope – a dozen ways to guarantee rejection

The Write Stuff

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For those of you who are of a creative or aquatic bent, you may be interested to know that I will once again be leading canal based creative writing workshops. Those crazy fools at the Birmingham Literature Festival have asked me to lead dusk till dawn writing sessions as part of this year’s festival.

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It really was great fun.

I don’t have a lot of details yet, but I guess that they will be similar to the ones I ran back in April as part of the pop-up festival. Back then, we started from Birmingham’s historic Roundhouse and explored the canals via canoe and kayak. It was a real eye-opener for me. There are parts of the city you can only explore from the canal. Deserted glassworks, industrial loading bays and the Victorian red brick of disused warehouses stand beside the canal, and their decaying shells now home a multitude of wildlife and their walls canvases for graffiti artists and frustrated lovers.

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Come and witness my world famous invisible fish wrestling.

We will spend at least an hour on the water and then back inside the relative, although not guaranteed, warmth of the Roundhouse I’ll put you through your paces with some short, focused writing exercises that will nudge you towards creating longer pieces of work.

All photos are the property of the very talented Jana Eastwood. You can find more images from previous workshops here at her excellent blog, Escapes and Photography.

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Birmingham’s Roundhouse.

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One of the many incredible views along the canal.

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Wildlife in the heart of the city.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

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This weekend has been a bitter-sweet affair. On Friday, I celebrated my 48th birthday. It was a beautiful evening spent with friends, slowly getting drunk, ruminating on life, love and loss and, as usual, talking bollocks – note to foreign readers, bollocks is British slang for testicles, but in this instance can be substituted for nonsense. We sampled a few of Birmingham’s finest drinking holes, made fun of each other, swapped news and decided to meet up again in the summer to really get to the heart of whatever shite it was we were talking about. One of my mates bought a copy of my book, Night Swimming, for me to sign, which was an unexpected pleasure, and as I was signing, he told me that my old English teacher, Mr Alsop, had died. This was a shock.

A few of us had stayed in touch with Mr Alsop. Some of the lads saw him around town, and one even joined in the weekly pub quiz that he ran. Most of my contact with him, apart from the occasional pint when I was in town, was through social media. Those of you who read this blog will know that I gave up Facebook just after Christmas. The giving up of Facebook has been a real liberation regarding work output and quality time and is something I would highly recommend. Well, I would recommend it as long as you stay in touch with people via other means. My blog posts and tweets still post through onto Facebook and, despite me announcing my leaving the site, my mates assumed I was still on it and knew that Mr Alsop was ill.

Alsop, as we called him, was a brilliant teacher. I went to a rough school. Learning wasn’t the top priority of most pupils or even teachers, and discipline could be tenuous at best in some lessons. An example I often use to illustrate how rough the school was, is the time a pupil brought in some live ammunition and threw it into the metalwork furnace – that was an interesting day. There are many others I could use. Some teachers had no control; their lessons were exercises in shouting and threats. Learning outcomes didn’t exist then, although I guess there must’ve been a plan of sorts – I seemed to spend a lot of time copying stuff off the board and staring out the window. But Alsop was different. He commanded the classroom with his physical presence, his love of his subject, English, and his scathing wit. No one pissed about in his lesson, and you learnt stuff. I remember, at the height of the miner’s strike in the 80’s, a load of us decided to go on strike and walked out of the school gates after break. We refused to go back into school and jeered at whichever teacher it was that tried to get us back in. Alsop walked out, said, ‘In’ and everyone shuffled in without a murmur – you didn’t mess with Mr Alsop.

He had a genuine love of literature, from Chaucer to John Cooper Clarke, Shakespeare to Douglas Adams, Thomas Hardy to Joe Strummer and everything in between. And his energy and enthusiasm were contagious. We were studying Evelyn Waugh’s, Men At Arms, and he delivered it with such insight and passion that I went on and read the other two books in the trilogy. I already had a love of reading before I met Mr Alsop, but he helped to focus it and showed all of us that words are important and that when they are combined in the right order, with the right intent, they can have a profound effect upon the reader. It only takes one bad teacher to put you off a subject for life. I was lucky; I had an excellent one.

I wanted to thank him for giving me, and all those he taught, such a rewarding time at school. For being so passionate about literature and creativity and for giving a shit. I mention him in the thanks section of, Night Swimming, but he died before he got a copy. I’m hoping to make his funeral in two weeks time. I know there will be lots of ex pupils there wanting to pay their respects. Here’s to you Mr Alsop, ‘So long and thanks for all the fish.’

 

 

 

Navigating Birmingham.

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Paddling and writing along Birmingham’s canals

Ever thought of combining canoeing and writing? Well, now’s your chance. On April 23rd, Jo Bell (poet,) Alyse Fowler (gardener/writer,) and I will be doing just that. We’ll be taking groups down the industrial canals of Birmingham and using this unique perspective to inspire creative writing. Check out the press release below for full details and booking info:

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£20/£16 (concessions), children £10

Need some inspiration to get writing? Want to explore hidden Birmingham?

Look no further than our series of creative walks, bike rides and canoe trips developed in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, National Trust, Birmingham Roundhouse, British Canoeing and Big Birmingham Bikes, and delivered by five fantastic writers.

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Take to the waterways of Birmingham by canoe for a unique perspective on the city, returning to dry land for a writing workshop at The Roundhouse led by Alys Fowler (10am-1pm) or Jo Bell (2pm-5pm). Workshops for young people at both sessions will be led by Garrie Fletcher. Canoes and instruction supplied free of charge from British Canoeing and B-ROW.

Please dress comfortably: we advise that you don’t wear jeans, you do wear trainers, bring waterproof coat and trousers, and a complete change of clothes. The canoes have a weight restriction of 17.5 stone.
Drinks are provided free of charge but please bring a snack to sustain you.

Suitable for adults and children aged 8 and over. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Workshop 1 – 10am – 1pm (Alys Fowler) 

Workshop 2 – 2pm – 5pm (Jo Bell) 

Roundhouse Writers

Jo Bell is a former Canal Poet Laureate and currently appears on Nationwide’s ‘Voice of the People’ ads. Her poetry collection Kith is published by Nine Arches Press. She is co-writing a handbook for poets – How to be a Poet – and lives on a narrowboat.

Alys Fowler is an award-winning journalist, regular presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World and Guardian columnist. Her new book Hidden Nature charts her journey through the canals of Birmingham by canoe.

Garrie Fletcher writes short stories, novels and poems. His collection of short stories, Night Swimming, has just been published by Mantle Lane Press. He leads the Birmingham Young Writers’ Group for Writing West Midlands.

How to Book:
Please contact The BOX to book tickets on 0121 245 4455 or you can book online by clicking the button below.

Book Launch

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Last Saturday, we launched Night Swimming, at the ‘book festival in a day,’ States of Independence. When I say we, I mean Matthew Pegg – a marvellous and industrious human being – introduced it, and I read a brief extract from one of the stories.
Matthew did a top rate job taking about Mantle Lane Press and the three collections that are out now, including, Night Swimming. My reading went really well; there was a great reaction from those there and a posting of purchases on Twitter soon after.

Night Swimming is:
“A collection of dark, urban tales: the pros and cons of stealing a pensioner, a mothers prison visit, incipient love and roller skating, the guilt of a brothers death, and a past love burnt out by rioting. Stories that deal with loss, longing and hope.

Garrie Fletcher writes about the gaps between lives, the pauses between stations and the static hiss of the city. The moments he captures are fleeting and easily missed, but resonate like a steel string plucked above a pickup, distorted and electric.

Mantle Lane Press small books can be slipped into a pocket and make an ideal stocking filler for literature lovers. ”
To get your hands on a copy of this beautiful book just click here. You can also order it from your local bookshop, or if you’re local, to me, get in touch, and I can get a signed copy to you.

 

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Get Your Trunks On!

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My first collection of short stories, Night Swimming, is almost here. It’s still not really sunk in. But on  Saturday, March the 11th, I will finally hold a copy in my hands – that should do the trick.

To be able to look at the cover of my book and flick through the pages, pages covered with words that I typed, deleted, retyped, crossed out, scribbled over and screamed at should fill me with joy, or at least a deep sense of satisfaction. Night Swimming cover-page-001

However, this isn’t ‘job done.’ Now starts the long process of promotion, of convincing people to buy my book. The first step, along the road of self-promotion, will be taken on Saturday at this year’s States of Independence in Leicester. I will be reading a short extract from, Night Swimming, as part of the Mantle Lane Press launch. I’ve read  my work at many events over the years, but this will be the first time that I’ve had a ‘product’ to promote. At the moment, I’m reading through the stories and trying to decide which one will tantalise the most and leave an audience wanting more.

If you’re in Leicester, or fancy a day out there, please come along to States of Independence. Here’s some info and details from their website:

States of Independence

Independent publishing | Independent writing | Independent thinking

A book festival in a day

 

This year’s States of Independence is our eighth. It’s a book festival in a day, a marketplace, a conference, a chance to relax and listen to some readings, an opportunity to argue about issues in the industry and to meet with independent presses from across the region.

States of Independence supports independent thinking, independent writing and independent presses. Join us for the day or an hour. Attend lots of events – you will be spoiled for choice – or just one, or simply come along and browse through the twenty or so bookstalls to see what the independent sector is publishing.

As always there are poetry and fiction readings and industry panels discussing current hot topics – this year focusing on independent literary magazines. Non-fiction wanders from British Palestine to John Clare’s escape from an asylum, via the political power of music, reminiscences about being gay in the 80s, and how to talk about poetry

States of Independence is a free event, underwritten by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Centre for Creative Writing at De Montfort University, with the support of over fifty writers and over thirty presses.

All sessions are free, no tickets required.
Just turn up and stay for an hour or two, or the whole day.

<!–Click here to download a printable programme.

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States of Independence is organised and funded by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Creative Writing Team at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Night Swimming Book Launch, 11th of March!

My collection of short stories, entitled: Night Swimming, will be launched on March the 11th, at States of Independence in Leicester. States of Independence is a gathering of independent publishers. There will be workshops, readings, panels, seminars, book launches, bookstalls, independent presses, regional writers and much, much more. I think it’ll be based at De Montfort University, but I’ll let you know the full details when I get them.

If you’re in Leicester, or fancy a day in that fine city, then please come along and say hi. Previous events have been free of charge and there’s plenty to see and do

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5 Animated Films For Those Looking For More Than Just Pixar, Or Something Completely Different

I need to work my way through this list:

 

1. WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008). An Israeli filmmaker begins to interview veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, a conflict in which the filmmaker had also served, to recapture the memories of his o…

Source: 5 Animated Films For Those Looking For More Than Just Pixar, Or Something Completely Different

Prophet: Earth war

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Here’s just one of the many reasosn I’m looking forward to getting hold of a copy of the concluding collection of Prophet. The scene below is from one of the previous stories, but it gives you a glimpse of the kind of brain-twisting visuals you can expect.prophet29-spread

The artwork throughout this series is continually exceptional as is the storytelling. This is sci-fi in the British and European tradition. A tradition of dark, bonkers ideas that stretch the imagination. Prophet is a rarity in comic books in that it improves with successive readings, but don’t just take my word for it. Check out this post at Paste Magazine.ProphetEW_02-1.png

 

Farce Book

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Graphic from the Writtalin blog.

I’m leaving Facebook. There, I’ve said it. I’ve been thinking about it for some time, and after initially deciding to have a break, I’ve decided to make the break permanent. It’s not that I don’t love you all out there in the virtual world, it’s just that you take up far too much of my time. Well, it was that initially. Initially, I thought that cutting FB out would give me back time to do stuff, and more importantly, time to daydream – there’s simply not enough daydreaming going on in the Fletcher head-space. And then I read an article by Salim Virani that laid out all the shite that FB gets up to without our consent.

Salim, is a tech-savvy entrepreneur, educator and writer; he’s set up projects that focus on peer to peer learning, but the thing that caught my eye, thanks to a tweet from, Kit De Wal, was his post on leaving Facebook called, Get your loved ones off Face Book. The article was originally posted in 2015, but has since been updated, as have FB’s terms and conditions…

It seems that FB is taking personal info, creating profiles of you and your friends and then selling this info to the whoever wants it. Info is passed onto banks, insurers, potential employers. FB even has an algorithm that posts stuff on your behalf. If you’ve ever seen adverts for companies/services that are endorsed by your friends, the chances are that they did no such thing. FB posts stuff that you recommend to your friends. Well, when I say you endorse I mean it pretends that you endorse it. It accesses your phone including your camera, microphone and GPS info which, if you read Salim’s article, has led to some rather embarrassing and disturbing situations for people.

I suppose, what with the Snooper’s Charter now becoming law in the UK, I should just shut up and put up with this, but I don’t see why profiles and judgements should be made about me, my family and friends, and then sold on to whoever wants them without my consent.

Please read Salim’s article here. It only takes 15mins, and there are lots of references from reputable sources to back it up.facebook-thumbs-down

I’ll leave my profile up for a week and then I’ll take it down. I’m intending to start deleting photographs now. Sadly, I think I’ll still need a FB presence for my work as a writer, but if anyone knows of a suitable alternative, please let me know.

This post will appear on FB, but I won’t be replying to any comments that are posted on FB. If you want to leave a comment, please do so on my blog – it doesn’t take long to set that up. This also means I won’t be on Messenger anymore, but you can still contact me through phone, email, post, WhatsApp and, heaven forbid, face to face.

I know people that have left FB and have ended up coming back and that may well be the case with me. I’d just like to give cat-free-video-clip-living a try and to not have my info used for profit.