That’s me reading poems at the Torriano Meeting House

12 June 2022: It was a pleasant Sunday evening of poetry and friendly chat, meeting local poets and listening to the top of the bill, Judi Sutherland’s commentary and excerpts from her epic poem, Following Teisa.

For the record my “set list” (because I’m like Bob Dylan y’know) was:

As well as getting two poems out of my referral to the Western Eye Hospital, as I said at the Torriano, I also got this blog post, which should be subtitled “Angels or Demons,” and several other mercifully unpublished poems.


Photo: “Frankie Pedantic at the Apollo” cartoon by Zoz (aka yours truly.)

My Year in Writing, Editing and Publishing, 2021

Since I self-published Day of the Flying Leaves (Selected Poems) in March, I have posted the following new poems online. I will eventually move them into a new collection, working title “A Hot Sup From the Teapot”.

I updated this on December 26, 2021 and as yet Day of the Flying Leaves has had no reviews. To be fair, I only sent out one copy for review, to someone a friend recommended as a potential reviewer. Zip! Sales were two or three in the first month, and none since. My poems have only been recognised online by one or two kind friends and a few far-flung WordPress bloggers I don’t know at all.

This year as editor, I published brilliant new short stories by Jack R Johnson, Jessica Fogal and James Roderick Burns in Stories of the Month. I continue to work on some unpublished short stories and two or three projects that have the potential to blossom into novels or novellas. There are also more poems in the works. Ever onwards!


Picture: One of the cover concepts for Day of the Flying Leaves

Moving On/Gallery

I’ve given up promoting my books as life is a bit too short and it does no good. However, I will continue to publish what I can and let my words rise like burnt prayers to the heavens. Self-promotion is tiresome and ineffectual, if not downright counter-productive. Let that be an end to it.

So, next. I’ve put a gallery of slivers from my photos as page headers, only slivers because they have to be cropped to fit the space available in this WordPress theme. They’re randomised and you can make another one appear (usually) by clicking them. Meanwhile, here’s what the book looks like on an old Kindle.

Kindle view from “Day of the Flying Leaves” by yours truly

Gone mad here counting*

Over the past sixteen years, I have been instrumental in publishing 139 short stories by 113 writers, not counting myself, from Bosnia, Canada, China, England, India, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, USA and Wales.

The last few were online and the rest were in 11 anthologies. I also co-edited two anthologies of poetry. Sales have been very poor but the writers I picked have gone on to win all the major prizes for short stories [and, more importantly, continue to be lovely people. Ed.]

Link: Index of contributors to the New Short Stories book series and Story of the Month

* With a nod to The Onion Eaters by J.P. Donleavy

Giving up?

Update: since writing this, I have resumed work on the novel.

Stephen

I am not a novelist. I’ve wasted good ideas for short stories by trying to think of them as novels. However, if I revisit them, and I have about four I think I started on, maybe I can rewrite them as long short stories. I’m very down and depressed. Hardly an hour goes by that I don’t spend partially in contemplation of throwing my hat at it all. I wish this coronavirus would go away, it’s so worrying and depressing. So much anxiety, fear… We’re shielding each other here. A ticklish throat, random cough at night: is this it? Are we goners?

Then sometimes interludes of welcome respite in the garden. I wish goldfinches would slow down so I could have time to get my binoculars and have a good look at them. They flit to the bird bath and are gone in an instant. I’m going to go for a long walk today, my 3 mile walk. I’ve been taking the 1 mile route most days or staying in all day. Meanwhile here’s Donny…

Giving Up by Donny Hathaway (Spotify)

Snaps and claptrap

Weeds are good. I like them. We have to stick together. The camera can’t quite capture the delicate primrose colour exactly.

Primroses growing wild in the back garden

In other news, our lemon tree has been freed from its greenhouse prison to romp about in the sunny outdoors. It is bedecked with flowers like jasmine only more grown-up and sensual. The one lemon is still a work-in-progress, hidden by two sentry leaves and lots of tiny lemons have got started and are hoping to hang around a bit longer.

Freed lemon tree gambolling and frolicking in the open air

Flying update

As this is a blog, I feel I ought to report what’s happening with me, at least once in a while. I’m trying to make progress with a novel I started on more than a year ago. As part of this, I’m taking another workshop course at City Lit. It’s the highlight of my week and I’m getting great feedback, encouragement, and discovering that there is so much more I need to do. I know it’s often said that you shouldn’t workshop something till the entire first draft is finished but I am worried about the foundations I’m laying with the first few chapters and I don’t want to “go off half-cocked.” A friend from my local informal workshop said about my work-in-progress, “I think this one has legs.” That’s why I chose to press ahead and try to complete it and why I’m doing all I can to do so. It’s fascinating to see how others are getting on with their writing and I learn something new every day, in the process of giving and receiving feedback. The course is called “Advanced fiction writing workshop” and our tutor this time is novelist Mary Flanagan, whose comments and notes are both charming and insightful.

Thanks NHS, 10 years younger & faff-less writing

I’m very grateful to Dr El-Husseiny and all the team at Charing Cross Urology department for giving me back the ten years younger that I feel. To the jolly Caribbean night nurse, you are gold, cheering-up the ward of men with tubes where no tube should be.

And I hope the worried Londoner who talked to me by name, is okay. He was so worried and I said I was the same before but I could have said more as I left. Others too. It’s a world apart. We were there for prostate reduction operations. There was a man older than the rest who was fairly quiet and another young guy who was shouting and moaning but he had other complications, probably a different operation, I think.

That was some months ago now. It’s been fascinating, becoming “ten years younger.” Once I’d recovered from the operation and started feeling like this, I thought it’s like having part of a life to live over. What I didn’t do for the past ten years and should have, I now must, or will it just be the same again?

So I’m doing some work on a writing project, instead of faffing around, noodling, doodling. But it’s tricky, this “being serious” malarkey. There’s a danger that my, though I say so, light & breezy text is at peril of becoming dull by having to make sense. But I hope if I rebuild on better foundations, which I am doing now, that normal service will be resumed, and light breezes shall blow again. I don’t know if this is of interest to anyone other than me but no matter!

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