Solstice Shorts Festival 2021 call for submissions

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It’s that time of year again, the Spring equinox, (technically last week, but this got stuck in drafts!) when writers start to creep from their burrows and look hopefully for signs of regrowth and renewal; and we start the process of chosing material for Solstice Shorts.

But what if…

What if there are no signs of regrowth?

What if there are no signs of renewal?

What if we have pushed nature too far?

So our theme is time is running out, but our title is Words from the Brink.

We would like you to address the climate crisis before it becomes a climate catastrophe.

We like a time concept, because that’s the overarching theme of Solstice Shorts, but it needs to address the sense of anxiety about, and responsibility for, climate change.

Poetry and Short Fiction: Maximum 2000 words, your own work, in English, not previously published.

Songs: maximum 5 minutes, traditional or your own work, (ie NOT someone else’s copyright) in any language but please provide a translation if not in English, and you need to be available to perform* it yourself, or teach it to someone who can.

Deadline 21st June 2021 23:59 (Summer Solstice)

By the way, we want to see actual stories and poems, not thinly-disguised polemic please; and, equally, there has to be more to it than a description of nature. Are we demanding? Yes, we are!

Submit via Submittable

The Solstice Shorts Festival is recorded for posterity, and all chosen material is included in the anthology, which will be published in time for the festival. We pay royalties. Sometimes, depending on funding, we pay a performance licence for use of your work at the event as well.

*We usually hire actors to read the stories and poems so that there is no limit on where people can submit from, usually we expect songsmiths to sing their own work, but things being as they are, we are open to suggestions.

We don’t yet know where exactly the festival will be held this year, whether on the ground or online, so it’s still a bit fluid. If on the ground, we’ll definitely be somewhere in Greenwich, London – possibly elsewhere as well. We will keep you posted!

 

 

Zed and the Cormorants – Virtual Premier

Last Sunday (9th May), Cornwall Libraries hosted an online premier for Zed and the Cormorants, featuring author Clare Owen answering customer questions, and reading from the novel.  You can watch (or re-watch) it here.

Upcoming Events – Summer 2021

Launch of Incorcisms by David Hartley, and 100neHundred by Laura Besley – May 27th 2021 

You can get tickets here, free; or for £8.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books; or for £17.98 to include a copy of BOTH books.  Books will be sent post free.

The evening will include readings by, and chats with, Laura and David, and they will also be joined by the narrators of their respective audiobooks.  Also, THERE WILL BE CAKE (BYO): we’d like you to join us in celebrating the launch by baking (or buying) cake to eat during the event, and drinking lemonade (the reason behind lemonade drinking will be made clear on the night!).   

There will be Q&A opportunities throughout the event, and even a chance to write your own 100 word story.  So put your thinking caps on, and start making a note of all those burning questions about flash/short story/micro fiction or anything else you may wish to know about these writers and their work.  And dust off those notebooks and pens.

You can also (pre-)order the books now from our Webshop.

Arachne at Brockley Max Online – May 30th, 31st and June 1st, 2nd and 3rd 2021

This year we are running THREE events at this brilliant community arts festival, as well as hosting an evening of readings by Writers of our Age (WooA).  All events can be booked through Eventbrite (see individual links below).

May 30th, 16:00 BST – Keeping Up With Paper and Pencil

Catch Clare Owen, author of our recent YA novel, Zed and the Cormorants, in conversation with Sally Atkins, who did the beautiful illustrations for Clare’s book.  Entitled Keeping Up With Paper and Pencil, Clare and Sally will discuss creating vivid characters through words and images – so one for both writers and artists.  They’ll share their notebooks, sketches, extracts from the novel and new ways to get characters up on their feet and ready to sprint off the page. 

You can get tickets here, free; or for £10 to include a copy of the book.

May 31st, 19:00 BST – Short, Flash, Poem? 

Join Arachne authors Laura Besley (100neHundred), David Hartley (Incorcisms) and poet Rob Walton (This Poem Here) for an evening of readings and discussions dealing with issues around their chosen literary forms and touching on questions such as, do authors know what a piece will be when they start writing it?  When is flash a prose poem?  Do poems sometimes change into stories? How dark does fantasy have to be to qualify as horror, and is it allowed to be funny?

You can get tickets here, free; or for £8.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books.

June 2nd, 19:00 BST – Imagined Spaces – A Writer’s Approach to Place

Join authors and ex-Brockley residents, Lily Peters and Jackie Taylor for readings and discussion around the use of ‘place’ in their forthcoming titles with Arachne, Accidental Flowers (Lily) and Strange Waters (Jackie).

You can get tickets here, free; or for £9.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books.

June 3rd, 19:30 – WooA – Back in the Water

Join Writers of our Age (WOOA), a well established, published mix of local writers, for readings of specially written stories under the heading ‘Back in the Water’.

You can get tickets here, free.

Deaf Awareness Week 2021

Happy Deaf Awareness Week!

A perfect time to announce the contributors to our upcoming anthology, What Meets the Eye? The Deaf Perspective…

Alison Campbell
Ayesha Gavin
Bryony Parkes
Charlie Swinbourne
Clare English
Colly Metcalfe
David Callin
Dee Cooke
Diane Dobson
DL Williams
Elizabeth Ward
Emma Lee
Hala Hashem
Janet Hatherley
Jay Caldwell
John Kefala Kerr
John Wilson
Josephine Dickinson
Julie Boden
Khando Langri
Ksenia Balabina
Liam O’Dell
Lianne Herbert
Lisa Kelly (Editor)
Lynn Buckle
Maggie Arbeid
Marilyn Longstaff
Maryam Ebrahim
Mary-Jayne Russell de Clifford
Melanie Jayne Ashford
Raymond Antrobus (Preface)
Rodney Wood
Sahera Khan
Samantha Baines
Sarah Clarke
Sarah O Adedeji
Sophie Stone (editor)
Sophie Woolley
Terri Donovan

The book is due out in September and will be accompanied by BSL videos for every piece. All the contributors are Deaf, deaf or hard of hearing, and some of the submissions were received in BSL, so there will be translation going on in both directions.

 

New titles and open calls

We’ve just started looking at the submissions for our anthologies and have decided on titles, for books which were just anthology shaped holes in the schedule – which somehow makes them feel so much more real!

You can now look forward to:

What Meets the Eye? The Deaf Perspective (September 2021) edited by Lisa Kelly and Sophie Stone
and
Where We Find Ourselves (October 2021) edited by Laila Sumpton and Sandra A Agard
and (without looking at submissions, as the call is still open)
Words From the Brink: Stories and Poems from Solstice Shorts Festival 2021 (December 2021)

Now we can think about cover design.

I’ve just noticed how many of our titles start with W!

Zed and the Cormorants Blog Tour

Schedule showing the dates for the Zed and the Cormorants blog tour

With less than a week to go until publication, we are really excited to launch the blog and instagram tour for Zed and the Cormorants, with the first post going live tomorrow on @a_never_ending_story.

Zed and the Cormorants is a page-turning gothic mystery and contemporary coming-of-age story rolled into one. Perfect for readers aged 12-15, it is the debut novel by Clare Owen.

Zed’s family have moved from London to a village in Cornwall. Dad says they need a fresh start but nobody has asked Zed what she thinks. Maybe their new home will help with Mum’s depression and keep Amy, Zed’s sister, away from her drop-out boyfriend, but why does it have to be so remote?

Why has the boathouse at the bottom of the garden been locked up for seventy years? Why do the birds living by the estuary fill Zed with such dread? And WHAT do they want?

Follow the blog tour on the schedule above to read reviews of Zed and the Cormorants, guest posts from Clare Owen and even some Zed-inspired recipes. Plus, we will be sharing some exclusive content from the book!

Follow all the content from the blog tour here too:

  1. @a_never_ending_story gives Zed and the Cormorants 8/10
  2. Check out @bookslovereader’s beautiful Instagram review of Zed and the Cormorants
  3. Read Clare Owen’s guest post “Why I chose to write YA” on Whispering Stories blog and listen to an exclusive extract of the Zed and the Cormorants audiobook
  4. In just over 180 pages, Claire Owen has crafted a deep and haunting story which covers a range of important topics” says @magnifying_reader
  5. The gothic genre being entwined with the young adult genre made this book really interesting and enjoyable… I think it is a book every school library should stock!” Read Emma Suffield’s full review
  6. “Have you ever read a book and instantly wanted to recreate a tasty treat that was briefly mentioned?” @acupofwonderland created a Zed and the Cormorants themed #bookishbake
  7. “Let me just say that the Rebecca comparison? Spot on!” Dark Heart Books calls Zed and the Cormorants atmospheric, fun and a joy to read
  8. Zed and the Cormorants was a magical, mystical read that had me longing for more.” Read the review on Amy’s Bookish Life
  9. For our final blog tour review, Lucy Jakes give Zed and the Cormorants 4/5, loving the “simultaneously claustrophobic and magical setting” and “creepy cormorants”
Promotional image showing Zed and the Cormorants book cover and blog tour dates (24 April - 2 May)

Daylight Savings

This video is from a few years back now, for Dusk, the Solstice Shorts Festival. It’s about the Autumn daylight saving rather than the spring one, but we are publishing a whole book of stories by it’s author, David Hartley, in May. Incorcisms is filled with dark fantasy like this, and I’m sure plenty of us would like to turn back time this year, or possibly forward, a lot faster, so it seems like an excellent time to share it again.

Incorcisms

you can preorder Incorcisms now from our Webshop.

Online Launch and readings for This Poem Here

This Poem Here cover image Paul Summers

On Wednesday 24th March at 7.30pm we have the launch for Rob Walton’s debut collection This Poem Here. Rob will be joined by Will Teller.

Tickets are available free, or for £9 to include the book, plus a £1.30 transaction fee, but to make up for that, we will post the book to you for free.

The following day, Thursday 25th March at 7.30pm, (which is the official publication day) Rob is reading at One Year On, an online poetry event marking the anniversary of lockdown, alongside Rosie Johnston, Alex Josephy, Colin Pink and Jacqueline Saphra. This is a free event and the link can be got from the organiser Irena Hill.

The Audio book will be out a month after the physical and e-books. More news as we have it.

Arachne recommends books for International Women’s Day

Authors and Editors of upcoming titles choose three books  each that they would recommend for International Women’s Day

(Links mainly to our Bookshop affiliate page, except where the book is out of print, where the link will take you to abebooks, or not yet available where the link will take you to the publishers site)

Clare Owen, author of Zed and the Cormorants (April 2021)

The Good Women of China – Xinran

True – often harrowing and heartbreaking – stories of women living during the Cultural Revolution, collected by the host of a Chinese radio call-in show.

Love Among the Butterflies: The Travels and Adventures of a Victorian Lady – Margaret Fountaine (out of print)

The private diaries of a vicar’s daughter who defied her family’s expectations to travel the world collecting butterflies and lovers along the way.

What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt

A beautifully written, intense and intelligent book about art, love and loss from a writer who invariably gets less attention than her husband (novelist Paul Auster)!

Cherry Potts, Arachne Editor in Chief (who gets to choose more than three)

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula le Guin

A powerful and wildly original Science Fiction novel that tackles gender fluidity decades before anyone else, in passionate and often witty observations of human, and alien frailty.

The White Darkness, Geraldine McCaughrean

I could have picked any of McCaughrean’s young adult novels, but this is the one I read first and adored. A tautly written adventure that doesn’t sidestep difficulties, and is truly shocking at times.

Persepolis Marjane Satrapi

A graphic novel/autobiography about growing up as a stroppy teenager in Iran. Funny, distressing and beautiful.

Second Class Citizen Buchi Emecheta

As a bright young thing in the 70’s and early 80’s, I sought out and read acres of books by black women, many of them American, and some no longer in print. This book bucked the trend, being both British and with sufficient enduring appeal to still be available. There are whole passages in this book I remember pretty much verbatim nearly 50 years later.

The Stone Age Jen Hadfield

Not actually out yet, (18th March) this is my first ‘choice’ selection from the Poetry Book Society. I’d been resisting signing up on the grounds that I like to choose my own books, and poverty, but I finally cracked and I’m really glad I did. This is one of those ‘I wish I’d published that’ books, and taps into all sorts of things that I love, in particular the standing stones of Shetland. Hadfield gives them voice in an entirely convincing way. A total delight that made me want to visit Shetland again.

Ness Owen, co-editor A470 (March 2022)

Inhale/Exile Abeer Ameer  (Seren). The poems I’ve heard so far are a fascinating mix of the personal and political, of language and place. Between Iraq and Britain, the poems move from tender family histories to shocking atrocities.

Flashbacks and Flowers Rufus Mufasa (Indigo Dreams forthcoming, can’t find any information though!) I really enjoyed the journey in this collection deeply rooted in time, place and lives lived with a wonderful interweaving of languages.

Aubade After a French Movie Zoe Brigley (Broken Sleep Books)  This pamphlet includes some of the wonderful Gwerful Mechain’s poetry, bringing it into the 21st century (including an interpretation of the infamous Ode to a C*** in a brave modern voice). The poems are a spoken celebration for what it is to be a women without shame.

Laura Besley, Author of 100nehundred (May 2021)

Mrs Narwhal’s Diary by S.J. Norbury (publisher Louise Walters Books). I heard the author read an exert of Mrs Narwhal’s Diary at an LWB event and completely fell in love with the style of the book and the main character’s unique voice.

The Thin Line Between Everything and Nothing by Hannah Storm (Reflex Press). Hannah Storm’s flash fiction is searing in its honesty, attention to detail and emotional resonance. This collection will, without a doubt, be fantastic.

The Yet Unknowing World by Fiona J. Mackintosh (Adhoc Fiction). Fiona J. Mackintosh’s writing is a sublime combination of lyrical and startling. I’m very much looking forward to reading her full collection.

Lily Peters, author of Accidental Flowers

The Hazelnut Grove, by Paula Read: [Disclosure: Paula is Lily’s mum, and we’ve published her in the past.] I might be slightly biased, so don’t just take my reviews for it. If you want to escape for a while into the European dream and in turn, discover the harsh reality of how much work it takes to make such a dream come true, this is a satisfying and comforting read.

The Bass Rock, by Evie Wyld: This is the story of three women, in some way related, across three time periods. It is set by the wild North Sea in the Scottish borders and the landscape is a character in its own right. It is unsettlingly written, and it has everything you need: scandal, spooky empty houses and a hint of witchcraft.

Weather, by Jenny Offill: The way Offill writes is gripping and quick. It is the closest thing you can get to instant gratification in literature. This book is all about the relatively unknown under-world of ‘preppers’ – those who are preparing for a potential world-ending apocalypse. Right up my ever-darkening street!

Submission call for UK Deaf Short Story Writers and Poets for ‘Movement’ anthology

BSL version of this page signed for us by Marcel Hirshman of WealdBSL

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO FRIDAY 23RD APRIL 23:59

Arachne Press is planning an anthology of fiction and poetry by Deaf and hard-of-hearing writers, which will be produced as a printed book, an eBook and a series of videos. The eBook will contain links to the videos, which will also be on the Arachne Website, and probably YouTube.

Our editors are Lisa Kelly (co-editor of Magma 69, The Deaf Issue; co-Chair of Magma Poetry, first collection A Map Towards Fluency published by Carcanet) and Sophie Stone (RADA trained Actor, Writer: Paine’s Plough, The Bunker, BBC Radio 3 and Co-founder of DH Ensemble theatre Co)

We have chosen the theme of movement, to fit with our overarching theme for this year and next, of ‘maps and mapping.’

You can interpret this however you want,  and we’ve been thinking about movement as communication and connection, mobility, and stillness, being moved emotionally, movement within and after Lockdown, freedom of movement, and being part of a political movement – so we are open to all your ideas… Except! NO Erotica, horror, gratuitous violence, sexism, racism, or homophobia.

We actively encourage submissions from underrepresented voices, including ethnically diverse writers, LGBTQ writers, writers with experience of multiple socio-economic deprivation and women writers.

You can apply in written English, or by video in BSL, SSE or whatever UK based form of sign you wish; or in writing and sign. We will pay royalties, and there will also be paid work translating/performing the BSL output from this project.

We will be translating everything that arrives signed into English, and we will also be translating everything that arrives written, into BSL. We will discuss with you in detail so that we get these translations right.

If your work is chosen and you want to do the signed version yourself, it will depend on the state of lockdown, and on your own technical skills with a camera; we will do our best, but we don’t want to put anyone at risk. If you don’t want to sign your own work, or it isn’t possible due to lockdown etc,  we will use a signing Deaf actor/translator.

For the submission just use a phone to video yourself and send us a file no bigger than 400mb. If your file is larger, let us know and we will arrange an alternative method.

You can send us one story of up to 2000 words/15 minutes of signing, and up to 3 poems around 650 words/5 minutes each which total up to 2000 words/15 minutes of signing, or 1 poem and 1 story.

We would prefer that the work be unpublished, but if you have published something that is a perfect fit, we will consider it, provided you hold the copyright.

Publication planned for 16th September 2021

All submissions via https://arachnepress.submittable.com/submit, where you can also find submission calls for Black Asian and Minority Ethnic writers,  should that apply to you.