Rational Velvet

I began this post yesterday, and spent all day trying to format it using a flashy editor called Elementor. I use it for constructing pages, but blimey it was a struggle for a blog post, and I inadvertently published before adding all the text and images. I’ve sorted that now, and will have to keep playing with things to get myself comfortable with this newness. Anyway, for what it’s worth, you’ll find the post here, at the new place. It’s about the myth of the scruffy artist, and how I went out for chia seeds and bought a purple velvet jacket. At least it now contains everything I planned for it.

Featured image from Atelier Doré.

Literature Ambassador 2019: Writer Opps #14

It would seem moving websites is rather like moving house, I’m still tripping over boxes, faffing about with paint-charts, and trying to find the right nook for my reading chair. My new site is still rather chaotic, the pages sparsely furnished, and probably not yet ready for visitors. I’m between two (virtual) homes. I lived here for two years rather comfortably, but eventually got fed up with its shortcomings and built myself a swish new place. All very well but it feels rather lonely over there, and I rather miss this old place’s comforting foibles and friendly neighbours. So I thought I’d pop over for a chat, and, while I’m here, share some writer opportunities in the form of my regular Wednesday post:

Christopher Doyle & Co.

Literature Ambassador: Writer Opps: From Lit Mags to Japan

Writer Opps Wednesday aims to bring you six fresh, juicy opportunities each Wednesday. This week we have, 1) a two week residency in Japan for artists of any discipline; 2) an eight week course for artists in Scotland who would like to become full-time freelance creative practitioners; 3) an all expenses paid programme for students (19-25yrs) who’d like to become film critics; 4) a brand new magazine that seems particularly concerned with creative development, and is looking for submissions from students and established writers; 5) A Publisher who Accepts Unsolicited Queries; 6) An invitation from Authors Publish Magazine to pitch articles and ebooks for which they will pay!

Zip over to my new place to see of what those opportunities consist. It would be nice to see you over there as I transition at a snail’s pace.

Literature Ambassador: 2019 Writer Opps #13

I’m shifting over to my new site, slowly, so I put this week’s Writer Opps post there. Which is to say, here.

Literature Ambassador: News from Wigtown

Straight from my inbox to you, enjoy!

Spring has arrived in Wigtown!

We’ve got a busy springtime ahead with a variety of events taking place in the coming months. We’ve got interpretive dance for children, the Spring Book Weekend with the Association of Wigtown Booksellers, our ongoing fundraising through our online auction and the annual Writers’ Gathering. See what’s in store for springtime below. 

Adventures of Isabel

17 April | The Print Room | 3.30pm

A critically acclaimed, immersive dance theatre production for children aged 3-10 years. Sit with Isabel in her garden and join her on an epic journey through her imagination. Watch as she faces challenges, confronts her fears and learns about her emerging independence.Book Now

Check Out Our Catalogue

WFC Fundraising Auction

Bidding closes 30 April

The annual WFC Dinner and Auction took place at the start of the month, but if you couldn’t make it don’t worry. You can still place bids on the online lots until the end of the month. Please place bids by email to claire@wigtownbookfestival.com.

Give Voice, Give Stories

4 May | The Print Room | 2pm

For the past five years, storytellers Jean Edmiston and Susie Howie have been working in care homes in Dumfries & Galloway. Join them to hear some favourite stories and experiences gathered through Wigtown Festival Company’s Give Voice project. Folklore, fairy tales, poems, songs and stories of place await.

More Info

More Info

Legacy Letters: Leaving Behind What Matters Most

4 May | The Print Room | 5pm

Never mind the family china, pass on a legacy letter. Share your signature stories, wisdom, love and forgiveness with  future generations. This 90-minute workshop will provide a basic understanding and framework for writing legacy letters as well as the tools and support you need to get started.

Spring Kist

4-5 May | County Buildings | 10am -4pm

Local and national producers and artisans showcase the best of Scotland’s art, craft, food and drink with more than 25 unique stands to browse. The Spring Tearoom offers morning coffee, a light lunch or afternoon teas. 

More info

Writers’ Gathering D&G

11 May | The Print Room | 9.30am-4.30pm

The Writers’ Gathering D&G offers a networking and development event for writers of all skill levels and the chance to have one-on-one sessions with published authors where they can review pieces of your work.  

Tell your friends

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Wigtown Festival Company principal funders

Principal funders logos

Wigtown Festival Company
11 North Main Street
Dumfries & Galloway

Box office: 01988 403222
Administration: 01988 402036 

Hoping to get back to something like normal service this week, though the likelihood of a story tomorrow is pretty thin Writer Opps Wednesday looks healthy.

Header image: Flickr

Story-A-Week #14: Birthday

This week’s story is a true one. I did begin to write a normal, fictitious one, but found myself too absorbed in the new project I’ve taken on. It involves working on-site with a client, helping them with all the tasks that go into putting on an international medical conference. Last week I was getting the website up to scratch, and I liked the functionality of that site so much that I spent most of Saturday building one for myself.

At the moment it has almost nothing on it, but as a test I dashed out a blog post on it this morning, which is where you’ll find the true story. I expect I’ll eventually transfer everything from here to there, but for now, as I populate it in increments (like building a cake from crumbs), I’ll probably run both in tandem.

It’s my birthday today, so we’re now off to Yorkshire for a few days, I may report from there! X

Literature Ambassador 2019: Writer Opps #12

Writer Opps Wednesday aims to bring you six new opportunities for writers every week. This week we have: a most intriguing call for entries of microfiction; developmental funding for artists who self identify as sharing one or more of the protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010; a survey about arts funding in Scotland which could lead to you directly influencing policy; a call for submissions from an Australian publisher who accepts international submissions; a free e-book on how to get your work published; and a call for submissions on the theme of Detritus. Read on.

Photograph of Leigh Bowery: Kate Garner

Micro Fiction Macchiato

Micro Fiction Macchiato

Deadline: 17 April 2019 at 23:55

Creative project of MLitt Creative Writing University of Glasgow. Call for micro fiction submission.

The project is to get people involved in special reading experience, which participants would be asked to read in dark. As participants re-write one of Edgar Allan Poe’s pieces based on either the original texts, or the already re-written micro fictions (under 30 words/ under 300 words) I created on the website, they have the chance to be included in the online anthology. As part of the submission rules, participants would also be asked to write their micro fictions on used coffee filter papers, photo or scan them while keeping a record in doc./pdf. file. 

The online anthology features adaptations of Poe at the current stage and aims to collect more micro fictions in the future.

Location: All Scotland ,England, Northern Ireland, International

For further information, please contact ewintermacchiato@gmail.com (Franz ), or visit https://www.microfictionmacchiato.com

The deadline is Wednesday 17 April 2019 at 23:55.

I can’t for the life of me work out what Franz is asking for, but I’m going to give it a good go at some point.


Creative Scotland

Deadline: 04 April 2019 at 23:59

This new fund seeks to increase the diversity of people in the arts, screen and creative industries. Developmental funding available for individuals and organisations.

Creative Scotland’s reports ‘Understanding Diversity in the Arts’ and ‘Equality Matters’ highlighted numerous and complex barriers to access, progression and representation in the arts, screen and creative industries.

These reports indicated that career progression is far from a level playing field. Challenges are more acutely felt by women, people with parental responsibilities, disabled people and those from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Lack of connections, social structures and networks also featured highly as a barrier, with many mentioning the importance of informal networks in securing work or getting noticed.

The Equality Analysis of our 2018-21 Regularly Funded Organisations (RFO) programme also highlighted a reduction in the number of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion-led organisations supported through the RFO programme and a reduction in a focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programming. Additionally, there were no new applications from Equality, Diversity and Inclusion led organisations.

This fund aims to start addressing some of these well documented concerns and increase the diversity of people in the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland.

This fund will seek to prioritise applications from individuals who self–identify as sharing one or more protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010; or from groups/organisations which are either minority-led or which focus on working with and for those who share one or more protected characteristics.

There are no minimum and maximum limits on how much you can apply for, and our intention is to award funding at the levels requested by applicants. We expect to support between 12 and 20 applications, depending on the level of demand, and the Fund has a total budget of £285,000 for 2019/20.

This fund is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. If you have any objections to receiving funding from this source – for example some applicants do not wish to receive money from sources of gambling – then please tell us and if successful we can arrange for the funding to come from other sources.

Location: All Scotland

For further information, please contact enquiries@creativescotland.com (enquiries@creativescotland.com), or visit https://www.creativescotland.com/funding/funding-programmes/targeted-funding/createinclusion

The deadline is Thursday 04 April 2019 at 23:59.

Literature Alliance Scotland: Survey for Arts Funding Inquiry

Deadline: Thursday 4 April.

Please share your views on the inquiry into the future of funding for the arts in Scotland issued by MSPs on the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee. The inquiry follows scrutiny undertaken by the Committee last year into Creative Scotland’s handling of the Regular Funding round for 2018-2021. 

Your opinions will be collated to help inform the LAS collective response to this consultation and will be anonymised. All questions are open-ended comments. Please also share this survey with your membership and amongst your networks.

Please see our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data. Thank you!


Image: The Big Head Project

Gypsum Sound Tales is a publishing house based in Sydney, Australia who accepts international submissions, and pays!

Colp is our ‘anything goes’ anthology collection.

Expect to see a little bit of this and a little bit of that within each issue, so feel free to submit stories from any genre.

Current theme: Big

Think big. For this Colp collection we are seeking stories that feature at least one significantly-sized character or component. Your story must include at least one of the following:

a character (main or otherwise) that is physically enormous (tall, wide, both) – think the size of a skyscraper as your starting point

an environmental feature or man-made structure that is equally enormous

giant objects

Go as big as you can, and think outside the box. Please avoid any stories that are retakes on Jack and the Beanstalk, Pacific Rim, Godzilla, King Kong or any other classical/modern story or film.

Colp is for everyone and therefore we are willing to read stories that fall into any genre. So, no matter whether your story is a horror, adventure, romance, sci-fi or historical fiction piece, please send it on through (we’d really love someone to send through a romance, just once…) Be original. We also encourage new and unpublished writers to take the leap and get in touch.

Read more https://www.gypsumsoundtales.com/Submissions.phphttps://www.gypsumsoundtales.com/Submissions.phhttps://www.gypsumsoundtales.com/Submissions.phpp

A free e-book on how to get your work published in lit mags

Submit, Publish, Repeat: 5th Edition

About the Book: This book is the definitive guide to publishing your creative writing in literary journals. This year, we’ve added a section about what to expect after you’ve submitted your work to literary journals.

The book also includes updated lists of publishers, including publishers for new authors, publishers of genre writing, and literary journals that pay their writers.

There is quite a bit more in this book, including a discussion of reading fees, contests, and anthologies.

The book is available, completely free.

from here: http://www.authorspublish.com/submit-publish-repeat/

The Suburban Review 


Waste and decay surrounds and absorbs you. It’s warm, thick, fertile. Breathe in the fetid excess and expose all the crawling, seething life forces. Write into the dark warmth and send us the best of your scum and grot. We want work like a smell so bad you can’t help but want to know what it is. Let your imagination go there, and then submit the spoils to us. We want to read it all.
We allow simultaneous submissions, just email us once
Here’s what we pay:

2000-2500 words—no more than that! (payment $150)

1000-2000 words (payment $100)

500-1000 words (payment $75)

2000-2500 words—no more than that! (payment $150)

1000-2000 words (payment $100)

500-1000 words (payment $75)

Suite of three poems (payment $150)

1 poem over 30 lines (payment $100)

1 poem under 30 lines (payment $75)

4 pages B&W or Colour (payment $200)

2 pages B&W or Colour (payment $100)


That’s Writer Opps Wednesday for this week, now I’m off to see what I can find for next week.

Story-A-Week #13: The Ride

For this week’s story I decided to merge two theories: the first, regards creativity, the second, productivity. Friday arrived, and I had still to even think about a story topic. I knew if I didn’t start that day I wouldn’t get it written, but I wanted to go to Glasgow and pick up a few necessaries, and I knew, also, that I wouldn’t do it when I got back. 

Then I remembered reading somewhere that some writers recommend writing on public transport. Ron Silliman even spent the whole of Labour Day 1976 riding the Bay Area busses and writing a huge, one sentence poem called BART. So I packed my laptop in my bag, and decided to write my story on the bus. Which I did.

Once we were moving I settled down with my bag on my lap and my computer on top of that. It worked brilliantly well, the bag creating a non slip surface of just the right height, and by the time the bus pulled into the station I’d written six-hundred and seventy-six words. 

I didn’t get to look at the story again until Sunday evening, and didn’t hold out much hope of shaping it up for today, but had recently read that playing a single piece of music repeatedly aids concentration. According to Ben Hardy lots of writers recommend it because it creates a kind of distraction proof forcefield as you ‘dissolve’ into the music. How could I resist?! 

I couldn’t, and decided on ‘Lost on You’ by my new hero, LP, for the track. There’s a great site called Listen on Repeat which will repeat any YouTube video you choose until you tell it to stop, I made very good use of it, though I’m not sure I ever quite dissolved. I did do a bit to the story while listening: removed repetitions; sorted out typos (hundreds, that’s one of the bad things about trying to type on a bumpy bus), and took out, or replaced the senseless bits. I also rather drastically changed the ending, and it’s a new sort of ending for me so I wonder if that’s a direct result of the music? Anyway, here the story is, in all it’s unfinished glory.

Amelia’s Ride

Amelia sat on the bus feeling a little too fat for her day’s task: to find an outfit to wear to her daughter’s wedding that her family would approve of, and that she would feel comfortable in. She isn’t the mother of the bride sort, she mused, her favourite clothes are a pair of old cords you might see on a gnarled farmer, a jumper she’s had for over twenty years, and her wellies. There was a time when she could switch between this look and that of the office she ran – tailored trousers, jacket, jaunty blouse, and heels, but these days, having given up that job some time ago, she found heels almost unbearable. The squeezing of her too wide toes, the pressure on the balls of her feet, the general precarity. Her thighs, she feels are now too wide for neat pants, she is no Sofia Coppola, and her bosom too uncontainable for thin material.

She had meant to lose a stone, two would have been wonderful, before having to make this trip, but managed only a few pounds. Her daughters, both, suggested she join a gym, get a personal trainer, take up running, anything, but she failed to do any of those things. Instead, she built a shed and got on with the garden.

Since Jim died she had had to learn to do such things. He had loved the garden, and had a gift for building and fixing; she had been the earner. Now her role was defunct, and he was gone, but she wasn’t defeatist so had taken classes, started a women’s day at the Men’s Shed, and set about becoming more Jim like. The cords she wore were his, and she felt powerful in them. She didn’t think she’d feel powerful in a purple frock and jacket combo with a hat and matching kitten heels. 

On leaving the bus she headed for John’s, her mother-in-law had sworn by their clothes, and she was nearly her age now. She browed the racks of linen shirts and trousers, which she rather liked but suspected Greta would sniff at. Scanned the space for anything that called to her, but felt quite uncalled. In the underwear department a nice woman measured her for bras and brought a selection to try, but they all had padding. She didn’t think she needed any more bulk and asked for something unpadded. They didn’t, the woman told her, stock unpadded bras in such a small size. Amelia wondered at the trend for bulbous breasts, and left without making a purchase.

Her jeans, the least country things she owned, kept sliding down her hips as she walked, she cursed their stretchable nature. She felt herself wobble under her shirt as she walked down the steps of the centre out onto the street, where hoards of stylish couples mocked her with their almost matching sunglasses and loose looped scarves. She scrabbled in her bag for her ancient Ray Bans and wiped the dust off them as best she could.

In a small boutique on the edge of town Amelia burst into tears.

As this post goes live I will be in a new office, learning new things, and hopefully not feeling like I’ve taken on more than I’m capable of. Lots of things I’ve been reading lately, about how to reach your goals and make a living as a writer, say one of the key things is to take yourself out of your comfort zone, and that’s what this is. It’s a new project, and an experiment that isn’t directly related to my practice, but I should learn lots of interesting things. I do hope I don’t let my new contractors down.

Header image: Pinterest.

In Search of a Harmonious Self

I’ve been working my way through Benjamin Hardy’s 30 Behaviours to Make You Unstoppable in 2019, and am half way through #12 which is about reducing your avoidance behaviours. Hardy gives two main reasons for avoidance and in the last post I looked at self-efficacy as a possible explanation of why I had been avoiding writing the post itself. Today I look at congruence, the other reason he cites. So, what the feck is it?

I am going to simplify because it turns out there’s far too much to all of this for a blog post, it would take a good year of research and another several years to write up. It’s probably a Phd and/or a book, and someone else has most likely done a much better job than I ever could. But with the help of Carl Rogers I should at least be able to give some indication of what Hardy means, and whether it could provide the answer to my problem.

It would appear that what Hardy means by ‘unstoppable’ is what Rogers called ‘self-actualized.’ Rogers argues that:

‘The organism has one basic tendency and striving – to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism’

(Rogers, 1951, p. 487). 

By which, I think, he means (once our basic needs are met) we are driven to meet what Maslow called our ‘growth’ needs. I’m not going to go any further with this, I just wanted to give a little context to tease out Hardy’s standpoint, but here’s a handy diagram:

Image from Simple Psychology

Hardy and Rogers both argue that in order to be in a state to meet your growth needs you need to be congruent.

What is congruence?

Congruence is when a person’s ideal self (the person they’d like to be) matches their self-image (the person they think they are). So, if you’d like to be Lauren Bacall but see yourself as closer to Miss Piggy you’re incongruent, and likely to be miserable and unable to grow.*

Is lack of congruence the reason I was avoiding writing the blog post?

In order to answer this I need to examine my ideal-self and my self-image, find out if there’s a disconnect, and if this disconnect could be the problem. 

The person I’d like to be is: flexible (able to respond positively to the points of view of others; able to tolerate interruptions; able to change my mind…); honest; capable of learning (mastering new tasks, solving complex problems, understanding other value systems and perspectives…); nice to be around; ethical; helpful; caring; listening; attractive and stylish (more Lauren Bacall than Miss Piggy).

I see myself as all of these things, most of the time, though I do fear I’m becoming more Miss Piggy than Lauren Bacall. By ‘most of the time’ I mean there are occasions when I catch myself being less of one of them than I’d like to be. I have, for example, found it difficult to respond positively to Brexit supporters a lot of the time. But looking at my list of ideal traits I think the reason I avoided writing the blog post is that I got bogged down in so many theories – from Freud to Nietzsche to Maslow to Rogers – that I felt myself incapable of learning enough to write a post that, a) made sense and, b) wasn’t so simplified it became untrue. In the end I had to convince myself that what I could say would be good enough if I was honest about my shortcomings, and provided links to better explanations. This gave me the courage to come out from under the bed and have a go.

But how can knowing this help me become unstoppable? 

It could make me lower my standards. It could make me avoid trying to do difficult things. Neither of which would be good. But it could make me stop and take note of the elements of a task and assess the time it’s likely to take to master before jumping in. Which would be good. I do think I have a tendency to say yes to things before thinking about what that entails, not because I believe I can do anything but because I’m afraid of disappointing people. Actually this reminds me of another ideal-self characteristic: free-spirited artist. The big cleavage between my ideal-self and my self-image may be right here. I’m far too much of a ‘pleaser’ which leads to a skewed notion of responsibility. I know I’m not responsible for the happiness of everyone in the whole world, but I really don’t want to contribute to anyone’s unhappiness, regardless of whether I’ve met them or even know they exist.

Thus, as I had set up this series of blog posts based on Hardy’s theory, it felt like I’d made a promise. Having made that promise I felt unable to break it. So when I got to this ‘behaviour’ (#12) and found myself getting ever deeper into the theory of self-actualization, I realised I’d never be able to write about it in a meaningful way so just stopped. Then I realised I had stopped, kicked myself for it, tried to force myself to keep that promise, and failed.

I know I have now written something (thanks to being able to convince myself I could do a good enough job of it), but it is rather feeble. I’m not even sure it makes internal sense, let alone sense of Hardy’s idea, but I am not going to shy away from keeping the promise to publish. I am, however, going to free myself from the self imposed responsibility to keep on with Hardy in such a rigid way.

But, just to recap, by looking at congruence I have found a place where my ideal-self and my actual-self diverge. I’d like to be a free spirited artist who earns a living from her practice, but a skewed sense of responsibility means I often agree to do things for other people that end up limiting both my sense of freedom, and my ability to focus on my art to the degree I feel I need to. And this is probably why I put so much effort into avoiding writing this post: it was too difficult a task in the limited time I set myself, but I felt I’d made a promise that must be kept at all costs so couldn’t just give up. Maybe now I know I’ll be able to work out some kind of strategy to, if not heal the rift, at least transcend it.

Julia Santacruz Herrera in Paris

Next week I’ll take a break from this series, not least because I’ve been doing this in an attempt to reach my life goal of earning a living from my practice and next Monday I begin a big new (paid!) project. I’m not sure if this is a direct result of, a) all this self analysis, b) attempting to navigate the art-world using Jeff Goins’s twelve step plan, c) merely keeping at it or, d) some combination of all three. Whatever it is, I’m both excited and terrified by this new stage. I’ve discovered by writing this post that I am more than capable of agreeing to do things I shouldn’t, so now I’m worried that this is going to be an example of that. What have I said yes to? I’ll let you know.

*I do realise I’m being flippant here, and there are all number of ways a person can be incongruent that are considerably more serious and damaging.

Header image: Ice Blue: Terry Frost, 1972

Literature Ambassador 2019: Writer Opps #11

It’s Wednesday again, seems to come round faster every week! This post brings you a residency opportunity in possibly the most beautiful location in the world; a new Scottish cultural magazine looking for poetry and flash fiction; and twenty five publishers seeking young adult fiction.

The first two opportunities came into my inbox from Creative Scotland, which, if you are a creative practitioner in Scotland I recommend you sign up to here: https://opportunities.creativescotland.com/account/login/

Suilven: David May

Suilven is my favourite mountain, and it’s in my favourite part of the world. Gads! I would love to do this (I’m imagining making an art book with photographs, and stories from people who live there woven with its myths and history) unfortunately I have other commitments I can’t conceive of shifting, so I give it to you! For artists of any discipline, writers included:


Invitation for application for a Suilven Artist Residency

The Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Partnership CALLP, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, in association with the Assynt Foundation, is issuing this open invitation for expressions of interest to apply for an Art Residency to focus on Suilven, a mountain of distinctive shape and character, and one that is ranked among the most iconic in Scotland. Suilven dominates much of Assynt Foundation’s 44,000 acres of community owned land.

Major work has been funded by CALLP to improve and conserve the footpath providing access to the summit of Suilven. The recent and previous human interventions raise many questions and issues of significance for artistic exploration, and creative expression across a broad spectrum of perspectives and disciplines. But there is more to Suilven than the footpath and human interventions, and we are open to proposals that address whatever artists wish to express by whatever form of creative endeavour.

Download the artist brief from the link below to find out more about the project and how to apply. The deadline for receipt of applications is 12 noon, Monday 8th April.


Call for submissions of poetry and flash fiction

Deadline: 05 April 2019 at 19:00

Snack Magazine, Scotland’s new what’s on and culture magazine is looking for submissions of poetry and flash fiction to appear in our regular ‘Words’ section. Payment is £25 for any work published.

Snack Magazine, Scotland’s new, monthly what’s on and culture magazine is looking for submissions of poetry and flash fiction to appear in our regular ‘Words’ section. Payment of £25 for any work published.

All we ask is:

Your work must be no longer than 400 words.

It must not have been published elsewhere.

You must submit by the closing date of 5th April.

We look forward to seeing your submissions.

Location: All Scotland

For further information, please contact hello@snackpublishing.com (Kenny Lavelle), or visit https://snackmag.co.uk/

Image:Fred W. McDarrah/Getty from The New Yorker

Do you write fiction for young adults? Here’s a link to the Authors Publish list of:

25 Publishers Seeking Young Adult Manuscripts

Written by Emily Harstone

Young adult is one of my favorite genres to read, even though when I was a young adult I struggled to find good YA books. These days the young adult genre is profitable, diverse, and covers a wide variety of genres, from science fiction to romance and everything in between.

A lot of young adult publishers are open to submissions without an agent. Not as many as in the romance genre, but a great deal more than literary fiction (for example). Below is a list of all the publishers we have previously reviewed that are open to young adult manuscripts.

Some of these publishers exclusively publish young adult novels, others publish children’s books as well, while others are open to a wider variety of genres and age groups. Not all of the publishers are currently open to submissions but the majority of them are. If you click on the name of the publisher it will link to our full review of them. All full reviews contain links to the various publisher’s submission page.

The list is in no particular order.

Click on the link (above) for the full details of these 25 opportunities, and so much more!

There you are, twenty seven possibilities for writers in Scotland and beyond, why not give one, or more, of them a go? If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Header image: Pinterest.

Story-A-Week #12: Using Objects as Prompts

On my old desktop computer, and in my loft, I have years worth of writing exercises, prompts, and old lesson plans. And this week has seen me searching through old files, dusting off old documents, revamping ideas (with the help of Pinterest), and doing a little testing.

I have tended to present lesson plans/rubrics/exercises in plain old text. But Pinterest is a mine of visual ideas for all sorts of things from how to disguise your dustbin to how to dress like Emmanuelle Alt on a high street budget, and a zillion other things you never knew you needed to know. It also has tonnes of resources for educators, and after an hour or two of idle browsing early last week I was inspired to transform some of my old lesson ideas into exercise sheets with a visual bent.

Here is part of a lesson plan that is designed to lead to students writing rich descriptions of objects. I’d put an object on the table and give them the questions below, often by writing them on a board, and we’d have a five minute discussion before they got down to writing.

Sketching an object with words:

Questions to ask of it:

What is it?

What does it look like? colour; size; shape; solid or hollow?

What is its function?

What does it remind you of?

Who owns it?

What do they use it for, is that different to its original function?

But thanks to something I saw on Pinterest I made this and decided to test it by using it to start my story for the week:

I ‘d already put ‘vintage object’ in the Pinterest search bar and chosen this as my object:

Image from Pinterest

Then I sketched a possible scene/backstory:

The woman who owned it is recently dead. It had originally been her husband’s, he’d been obsessed with the fragrance of his breath, and ate these like a five year old would eat sweets were s/he allowed, and once he’d used the contents she cleaned it out and kept it. There are at least twenty more, stacked on a shelf in the pantry, behind bags of flour and jars of ancient pickles. Her daughter, who is cleaning out the house, has just uncovered them.

And wrote the first scene (rough draft!)

Bat Breath

I remember my father using these, he called them men’s sweets, and we weren’t allowed them. Too strong, he said. I stole one, once, he’d turned to pick up a fallen newspaper and left the box open, I snatched one and put it in my mouth before he could see, but he knew because it made my eyes water and I had to run to the garden and spit it out. He didn’t say anything, I guess he thought I’d learnt my lesson, he wasn’t always angry. Not with me, anyway, the others would probably say different. Joe left home rather than kill him; Cassie tried to take me and mum with her; Michael did kill him, though it was an accident. 

It’s difficult to tell if the worksheet helped me or not, I’m probably not the best person to test these things on because I’ve been writing for years and years, and they are really aimed at people who are new to creative writing. But I don’t think it hindered my creativity, so that’s something, and now the rest of the story is burning a hole in my conscious as I haven’t had time to get it out of my head and onto my screen. But it’s Monday* again and time to begin a new one!

*Okay, it’s Tuesday, I’m a day late, it’s been a busy week and weekend…

Header image: Pinterest

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