Monday, 12 June 2017

SouthWest Fest 2017

SouthWestFest is back for another year and so am I, your faithful creative writing workshop leader!

So if you're interested in free creative writing sessions, come by. There are three sessions:

3rd, 4th & 7th of July | 6.00pm -7.00pm | Pimlico Library

You can sign up for a free place at but (shh!) just for readers of this blog - even if the sessions say they are booked up, just come by. Tell me you saw it on my blog and I'll squeeze you in!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Off to the British Council Creative Writing Summer School in Athens!

Only one week to go. In just seven days I will be packing my bags, ready to head of for a week of chatting writing for the internet with the wonderful students of the International Creative Writing Summer School in conjunction with the British Council and Kingston Writing School.

We'll be building blogs, talking Twitter, writing for Wattpad, how to get work copywriting and, of course, all about creative writing and the internet - all together now: all the sins!

I'm hoping to get some collaborative digital writing going and to have some fun work to share with you all.

I'm also hoping to survive the heat. I always think I love hot weather but then find myself teetering on the edge of death when it goes above 80F/25C. I'm a pastey northern european no matter how many US summers I've survived (I barely survived one summer in DC...oh, the humidity!).

Fortunately, I'll have writing, writers and Greek food to get me through. What else could you want?

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Co-editing The Seethingographer

In what is quickly becoming a very busy year, my latest project is co-editing the next volume in The Seethingographer series of chapbooks published by Sampson Low Ltd. I heard you murmuring and, yes, you're correct: they are the publishers of such esteemed works as Noddy and Lorna Doone, and even a work or three by Bram Stoker. (cue my swooning love of Dracula [itself not a Sampson Low publication] and my strident reminder that Stoker is Irish)

Yes, yes, you say, we know Bram Stoker is Irish. You say it all the time. The question we have is: What on earth is a chapbook? Well, dear reader, a chapbook is a delightful morsel of art. A collection of poetry, or short fiction, sometimes combined with art and, in this case, a soon-to-be perfect alchemy of all three. The Sampson Low chapbooks are designed to fit into a small bag or pocket (only A6) and are just 16 pages long. They are perfect for a commute, a wait at the doctor's office or a maybe a lunchtime read in the sun. 

I was invited to participate in this venture by the wonderful poet and psychogeographer, Lucy Furlong, and I'm excited to start reading submissions soon! If you're interested in submitting, here are the details and you can find out more on the Seethingography website:

Theme: Going Home
Flash fiction <170 words
Poetry <20 lines
High res photography/art also welcome
Deadline: 30 April 2017
Submit to:
Payment: A fabulous copy all your own - it'll be a framer!

Only a few days left, so get scribbling, snapping and sending. Can't wait to see what you've got.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Kingston Writing School Reading Series

The exciting news this week is that my fab co-editor, Lisa Davison, and I will be talking writing and all the sins at the Kingston Writing School reading series. We're looking forward to talking with readers and writers and to sharing the stage with the wonderful, Vicky Newham.

Hope to see some of you out there!

Wednesday 22 March 2017
6.30pm doors - 7pm start 
Kingston University
Penrhyn Road

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Off to Athens with the British Council!

It's official! I mean, they've spelled my name wrong on the website, but, still, I'm pretty sure they mean me.

This summer, from June 19-23, 2017 I will be teaching a one week course for the British Council and Kingston Writing School's Creative Writing Summer School. My sessions will be on writing for the internet including blogging and internet-based publishing. I'm really excited and busy building some fun, hands-on sessions to help writers get comfortable and gain confidence in writing for all you lovely internet readers.

We'll cover all sorts of topics like finding and maintaining a readership, finding your niche, the basics of SEO, various platforms, tone, length, visuals, whether print is dead and what that means to digital writing and, of course, my passion project, the amazing all the sins. If you are wondering about editing or just being published in an online publication, find out all that entails and get a peek behind the scenes. I'll be telling our secrets and giving you the tips you need!

If you're interested, the price is fantastic: €340 per week with discounts for residents of Greece (15%), European Youth Card holders (25%!), and anyone who registers before 10 April (10%) for full week classes and €200 for three day classes. There are clases throughout the month of June on flash fiction, fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and publishing/editing in addition to my week on internet writing, and are three hours every evening, with a reading on the Saturday night. It's a great opportunity to focus intensively on your writing with motivated teachers. And, hey, it's in Athens - how far wrong can you go there?

If you're interested, check out the full line-up from Forward Prize winner Mona Arshi to New York Times bestseller Julia Stuart at the British Council website.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

First They Tried to Silence the Artists

My alter-ego, the co-editor of all the sins, had a bit of a go at Donald Trump this week. He had a go at the cast of Hamilton: An American Musical last weekend and demanded that the theatre be a safe space. This seems rich coming from a man who encouraged violence at his campaign rallies and has failed to condemn the hate crimes being perpetrated in his name.

There is so much to speak out about, from the admission of illegal activities by the Trump Foundation to foreign leaders being hosted at Trump Tower to Trump's children and son-in-law being positioned for high-level roles in his administration despite being in control of his businesses. The conflicts of interest are numerous and serious and the president-elect needs to be held accountable for them all.

The concern I have now, is our ability to do that. In my article on all the sins, I warned that the silencing of artists would lead to the silencing of more voices. And now there are reports that he summonded the press to Trump Tower for a dressing down of their coverage of the campaign - this after he banned press from his campaign if he didn't like their coverage - and he was on Twitter berating The New York Times. Discrediting news sources, denying access and trying to control coverage are all serious warning signs.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Aftermath

I am an immigrant. I have spent almost my entire life as an immigrant. Interestingly, I am not always recognised as an immigrant. But I am declaring today that I am an immigrant.

Britain, where I live now as an EU citizen, has voted for Brexit and the USA, of which I am a naturalised citizen, has voted for Donald Trump. This is deeply saddening for me. I belive that these votes stem from a long-standing mistreatment of citizens. There are great numbers of people in these two vastly wealthy countries who are ignored by their elected officials and who correctly believe that they are not represented in their governments. We cannot blame these people for knowing this and for wanting change.

We can and we must hold accountable the politicians who drove these campaigns on rhetoric that attacked our most vulnerable community members. We must reject the fear, racism, sexism, islamophobia, homophobia and xenophobia that has been accepted as a part of politics today. These sentiments do not represent the Americans or British people that I know. They do not represent the multicultural and diverse students who sit in my classrooms. They do not represent my neighbours in London. They do not represent the people I grew up with.

This harmful rhetoric played on the fears and genuine needs of people, however, and we, as societies, cannot continue to ignore the voices of these people. We must reject bigotry and hatred but we must support one another, even those with whom we disagree. Even those who voted for walls and immigration moratoriums. We must stand together.

For me, that means insisting that I am an immigrant while recognising my enormous privilege. I am white and I speak English as my first language. These play so far in my favour that I am often told that I'm not 'really' an immigrant. No? Allow me to disillusion you.

Boston is filled with Irish Americans. People who wear green on St. Patrick's Day and eat corned beef and cabbage. They routinely tell me, 'I'm Irish too!' I love that they are proud of their heritage. I am proud to be part of an Irish diaspora that runs generations deep all around the world. But the fact remains that they have never held a resident alien card; never, as a teenager, have an interview with an immigration official, raised their hand and sworn an oath of allegiance to the United States of America; never been called an illegal alien by their friends; never been told that they talk funny; never been told to go home.

Imagine if I were a person of colour. Or from a country other than Ireland. Or spoke English as an additional language. Or were Muslim. If I feel vulnerable as a white, Irish, English-speaking woman, I can only imagine what a non-native English-speaking, Muslim, woman of colour must feel.

There are many things I cannot change today, although I might want to. What I can do is stand up and be counted. I can say clearly that when you speak out against immigrants, you speak out against me. You may say, and many people do say to me, 'Oh, but I don't mean you.' I say that you do mean me. If you object to Syrians fleeing war, then you object to me and my family who have immigrated twice, not because of war, but because the opportunities were better in another country. I am an economic migrant, twice over.

When you say that Donald Trump only speaks crudely, then you say that my experience as a woman in a world dominated by men has less value than the male experience. You say that when men have catcalled me, grabbed me, physically threatened me, stalked me and told me just what they would like to do to me that it was their right to do so and that I am in the wrong. You say this, even if you are a woman. Sadly, many women have internalised the misogyny so ingrained in our society. How could we not?

When you say that our countries are being overrun by immigrants who steal your jobs and only come for government benefits, you mean me. You mean me, who teaches your children, who has waited tables, who volunteers in your communities, who donates to charity, who supports the NHS and who pays taxes. More taxes than Donald Trump.

I am so lucky to have been born where I was, when I was, in my pale skin, and to my parents who lived the American dream. They went to the US as students, built a small business, bought a home and raised a family. This privilege is a responsibility. It requires me to listen and to work so that others can have the same opportunities that I have. It is not easy. It will require sacrifice.

So, no. I don't believe the world is ending. I am hopeful. I believe that now is the time for us all, as a friend of mine wrote recently, 'to shut up and listen.'

But before I listen, I declare: I am with you. I am here. I am an immigrant.