Tuesday, 20 July 2010

News: Haiti, Salt, Bristol and more

First the good news.
It has been six months since the horrific earthquake in Haiti, something that seems incredible to me; surely it was only a matter of weeks ago?
Out of the wreckage came an iron resolve to do something. Many, many organisations and individuals stepped out of their daily lives and did incredible things. One such man was writer Greg McQueen, who put together an anthology of stories donated by authors. Six months later 100 Stories for Haiti has raised over £3000 for the Red Cross Appeal.
Originally brought out as a paperback, you can now also get it as an e-book and a podcast. Aside from its worthy aim, it is also a very very good collection of short stories.
You can see the work the Red Cross have been doing and donate straight to the Appeal here.

If you look right, you can see my e-short story I wrote to raise money for the same cause. It has raised rather less than 100 Stories for Haiti, but I am still collecting and every dollar helps. It is $1 in the US, 35 cents (the author's share) of which goes to the appeal. Unfortunately, outside the US it costs more.

Now the bad news.
Salt Publishing, one of the UK's most respected independent publishers, are in trouble again. The recession and the demise of Borders UK, one of their major customers, have hit it hard and they have only one week of cash left. Probably less by the time I write this.
They have a fantastic line-up of books due to be published this Autumn, and they are expanding into new lines. They publish books by Tania Hershman and Vanessie Gebbie, whose blogs you can see in my blog list, right.
If you are looking for something new, go and check out their website and help support independent literature.

Then some more good news.
This year's Bristol Short Story Prize has been won by Valerie O'Riordan for her 'stunning and incredibly powerful' 350 word story Mum's the Word. Yes, a flash story has won a short story competition. I am very much looking forward to reading Valerie O'Riordan's story. The anthology of all 20 finalists' stories is now available.

Finally, my own news.
I have had two more acceptances, one from my friends at Every Day Poets (which is fast becoming my second home. If I ever get kicked out of here I may move in permanently) and one at the exciting new Eclectic Flash, who publish as an e-zine and in Real Paper Format. They have a delicious website, and only launched in January this year. I'll put up links when they come out.
I'm not doing a lot of submitting at the moment as the novel is in full swing (now at 55,000 words) so acceptances are a real boost. They remind me there is life outside my dystopic world.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Surgery Slugs

My poem, Surgery Slugs is up at Every Day poets today. It is rather silly but holds a lot of meaning for me; I wrote it in remembrance of my Grandfather, a surgeon and passionate wildlife photographer. He was the circuit doctor at Silverstone racetrack, England, throughout the 1950's and 60's. He had a great sense of humour and I hope he would have liked it. I always remember him being a big man, but maybe that's because I was very small.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Friday Flash 4

New York, New York

The whole city really did look like a film set. That classical skyscraper, that’s where King Kong met his end. You could picture four women lunching and bitching in that window there. Audrey Hepburn returning at dawn, ‘fifty dollars for the powder room’ in her bag, gazing into a dazzling display of diamonds. Spider Man and Batman saving the world from evil just opposite Bloomingdale’s.

And as for this crumbling old shell of a woman? I couldn’t die without seeing New York, could I? A lifetime with a pleasant but tight-fisted man and not a single adventure other than through the silver screen. Now he was gone I wanted to be a part of it, New York, New York.

The taxi stopped just near where the horse-drawn carriages waited for tourists by Central Park. I paid him, tipped well, and stood with my back to the park, admiring the solid, gothic-tinged apartment blocks, each with their inscrutable doorman. Wasn’t that one where the Ghostbusters had their final showdown?

I shuffled around to face that wonderful park. My shoes were already giving me trouble but that wasn’t going to stop me. I had gone for an appointment, set up the day after Bernie’s funeral, with the personal shopper of Bloomingdale’s. I had explained my situation.

“My husband has left me three million,” I said. “Dress me as if I lived on Park Avenue.” And, eyebrows hardly raising – she must have seen some customers in her time! – she dressed me like a Lady.

I wrapped my stole tighter around me to protect me from the sharp wind and made my way towards the lower East corner. I had been told there was a little zoo near here.
“Can I interest you in a ride, ma’am?”
I shook my head at the tall, smiling black man who sat at the reins of the first carriage.
“You sure, ma’am? It’s an awful big park?”
All of a sudden I felt the chill of the March wind and the pinch of the elegant shoes on my tired old feet. I looked up at him.
“Do you know, I think that I might enjoy a ride?”
The driver helped me into the carriage. He did indeed cut a dash with his white teeth and smart black suit. I felt every inch the real Lady.
“I’m going to take you on the greatest ride of your life, if you’ll permit me, ma’am. I’m going to show you everything you never saw. I want you to be a part of it, New York.”
“Well thank you, my weary old bones are about ready to be shown the city in style.”
The graceful black man, his midnight eyes shining with the wisdom of centuries, flicked his reins and his beloved horse pulled away from the curb. The ebony carriage, shimmering darkly, gathered speed, taking me to see all the sights that I had never seen.