The Most Glorious CakeFest Ever!

Agnes with the winning cake made by Rachel joseph

Hi gang,

Yeehaa! LM celebrated it’s 10th birthday on 10th September, and at last am able to write to you about it.

It was a mega cake-fest, enough cake to make your heart and veins whimper in despair. Ironically, Sara-Mae Tuson, my incredibly hard-working fellow editorial group member, had texted me that afternoon to say she was worried there wouldn’t be enough cake. She’d spent the day baking cupcakes (which were absolutely delicious by the way…I had two and could easily have scoffed half a tin full without a qualm!). I had wanted to bake something, but spent the afternoon in total despair because there was no electricity in my block between noon and about 4.00 p.m. (don’t ask!!). So couldn’t log on or print anything out, or do any of the things I wanted to do ….aaargh! I had to go to M&S and buy two cakes instead.

As all of you who were there know, there was enough cake to feed an army of poets for a month. Even though we ate vast quantities, gave away as much again to everyone who would take it, I still had to take a stupendous amount home and was therefore eating cake for a week. My teeth and gut still haven’t stopped protesting, and I haven’t been able to look at anything remotely cake-like since then – though this will pass, I’m sure.

The night was a stupendous success. Sara-Mae and Chikodi Nwaiwu had both come earlier that evening and worked like Trojans to set everything up and make the room look a bit special. I love them both, and it would be absolutely true to say the night wouldn’t have been what it was if it hadn’t been for their hard work. We also unfurled the fabulous Loose Muse banner, which had been designed and made by artist Catherine Tuson. It looks amazing, so a massive thank you to Catherine, even if she wasn’t able to be there on the night to see the unveiling.

Sally Spedding had come all the way from Wales to be the other feature – she was totally fab. She’s a novelist whose work concentrate on the dark and dangerous, definitely right up my street, and a truly lovely, lovely person. She’s keen to help me set up LM Wales in the New Year, and has been talking to venues. A lot of women writers seem very keen indeed to get something going there, so watch this space. And as always there was an incredibly strong open mic with 16 readers sharing their poems and short stories with an enthusiastic audience. They had come from Cornwall, Winchester, the south coast, NYC, and Spain – lots of old friends as well as some new faces, all joined by the desire to see women’s writing get the credit and credibility it deserves.

I got flowers and pressies and had the satisfaction of a lot of people telling me how much they valued LM and everything it stood for/represented, which was extremely gratifying. It’s always nice to know that what you do has value beyond anything you imagined.

And so we go from strength to strength. The next LM event in London is on October 8th and features novelist/poet Fathieh Saudi and award-winning poet Malika Booker – there won’t be any cake, but it promises to be another exceptional night. So why not join us then at the Poetry Café…

Come along and share the magic.

Love

Agnes

Advertisements

Want to get published? Submit to the Loose Muse anthology…

Look how beautiful it is!

 

Hi all,

Just a quick reminder about our deadline for the next anthology. We’ve already published a number of these gorgeous collections, and if you want to get your work published you’re in with a great chance. As you know, you have to have attended at least one LM event to be eligible, but with our *new* Manchester and Cornwall based events opening up the pool of writers, we’re expecting some fab new work to start pouring in. So why not get in there early?

Deadline for Submissions for the next Anthology – 7th March.

If you have attended any Loose Muse event at any time during the past couple of months, you can submit poetry, short stories, flash fiction, a short play, or even an excerpt of your unpublished novel.  Email me (agnespoet@googlemail.com) your submission or give a hard copy to me, Steph in Manchester or Angela or Fiona in Penzance.  Launches for this new Anthology will be held in all three places late April.  It’s going to be the best yet!

Fancy using your writing skills to raise money for charity?

Jean-Marc Pierson (orfray@hotmail.com) is organising a public speaking/spoken word contest to raise funds for UNICEF – with special thoughts for the children of Syria.

Find five friends who would be prepared to give £5.00 each – then register to take part in the:

ONE MINUTE SPEECH CHALLENGE @ 2.00 p.m.

Saturday 22nd February @ Resource for London,

365 Holloway Road, Islington N7 6PA

For more information and how to register:

http://www.jeanmarcpierson.com/events/2014/2/22/the-one-minute-challenge

A great cause, and an energetic social afternoon to help the children of Syria.

So that’s the latest update. Here’s hoping this awful weather will let up and spring to start boinging about like Tigger.

Love,

Agnes

Finding inspiration in the bleak mid winter

 

The view from my window… I wish.

Hi gang,

Now that Christmas is well and truly over and 2014 has got off to a wet and windy start, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’d like to accomplish in the New Year. M OK, OK yes, top of the list is regaining my girlish figure…again!!  But much more important, and more likely to be achieved, is the following 5-point plan:

  1. Given The Famous Novel (working title ‘The Book of Betrayals’) is in the last stages of first draft completion, I want to start planning the sequel, provisionally called ‘The Book of Journeys’.  This will tell how my heroine goes back to Constantinople, journeying across a Christendom tearing itself to pieces on the eve of the 3rd Crusade, to reconcile her past with her future.  More research I guess, but hopefully it’ll be worth it when it’s done.
  2. Start writing my next book, NOT historical, but a fantasy novel, working title ‘The Conference of Dragons’.  This will be about…yes, you got it…dragons.
  3. Spend a lot more time lazing on a Greek beach and remembering how much I love Greece and the Greek people.   It really is one of my favourite places, and always makes me feel as if the Greeks really have got the meaning of life absolutely nailed.
  4. Spending a lot more time with friends, especially those I’ve known for most of my life and whom I’ve neglected shamefully over the past few years.  We always think that those we love will almost be there at the end of the phone whenever we want.  But having lost a few old friends in the last 12 months, I know this isn’t true.  I’ve reached the age where people I’ve known for a long time are dying, which is a sobering thought on so many levels.  This novel-writing lark has turned me into a proper recluse, but that’s no excuse to forget about the people who love me and not to be in touch more.  We are all mortal, and life’s too short for ‘”If only I’d taken the time and trouble…..”.
  5. And lasting, organize a few more Loose Muse events + get more funding for it, so I can spread the net even wider, both in terms of sister-events in other parts of the country, and also getting a wider spread of writers to feature.  I’d also really like to strengthen the publishing element of Loose Muse so that I can publish pamphlets and collections by women writers who haven’t yet had a collection published. I can think of lots of incredibly talented women writers who fall into this category, and want to get those off the ground once I’ve been able secure funding to make it happen.  So definitely watch this space for this idea.

And talking of Loose Muse, the event on February 12th is already looming on the horizon.  February features will be novelist Sally Spedding coming from Wales, and the multi-talented Hilaire.  So join us on February 12th at the Poetry Café.

Come along and share the magic.

Love,

Agnes

Feeling competitive? Get your work out there…

Hi gang,

This month instead of blogging about life and the meaning of the universe, I thought I’d highlight a few writing competitions, and give people a chance to enter if they wanted to.  I get information on all sorts of different comps and don’t always have the chance to pass the information on, or even to enter myself, so the least I can do is make a list of some of them here.

 

Words and Women – A new prize for writing women in the East of England

1st Prize – £600 – winner and runners up feature in Words & Women’s flagship anthology.

Deadline: 30th November

Judges are looking for distinctive work, crafted, strong, creative and adventurous.  Open to all women living in the east of England, over the age of 16 – short fiction, memoir, life writing and creative non-fiction, up to 3,000 words.  For more information go to www.wordsandwomennorwich.blogspot.co.uk

 

South Bank Poetry – 2nd SBP Poetry competition

1st Prize – £200, 2nd £125, 3rd £50. 4th Prize a 2-year subscription to SBP mag, 5th 1-year subscription + all published in the SBP Edition 18 in 2014.  Judge – Clare Pollard

Deadline: 30th November

Entry fee £3 per poem.  No entry form required, send 2 copies of each poem, one anonymous, one with name & e/contact details to: Peter Ebsworth, South Bank Poetry, 74 Sylvan Rd, London SE19 2RZ. Cheques/postal orders payable to Peter Ebsworth.

 

Ink Tears Short Story Competition 2013

1st Prize – £1,000, runner up £100, 4 Highly Commended £25 + the chance to have your collection of short stories published by InkTears.

Deadline: 30th November

Submissions must be 1,000-3,000 words in English, on any theme.  Entrants must be 18 years or over. Each submission must be accompanied by £6.00 entry fee, payable via Paypal.

Full entry Rules on – www.inktears.com/Inktears/WritersNewWritersContest.html

 

The Plough Open Poetry Competition 2013

1st Prize – £1,000, 2nd £500, 3rd £250.   Judge – Sir Andrew Motion

Deadline: 31st November

Submissions no more than 40 lines, typed single-space in standard 10-12pt font, one-sided on A4 with no identifying marks.  Entry fee of £5 per poem, cheques in stirling payable to The Plough Arts Centre.

An entry form must accompany each entry downloadable from www.theploughprize.co.uk

 

Words for the Wounded Writing Prize

1st Prize – £250, 2nd £100, 3rd £50 + all winners published in Writers’ Forum.

Deadline: 11 March 2014

Words for the Wounded is a charity for the rehabilitation of wounded servicemen & women.

Write no more than 400 words of fiction, or a real-life tale, or poem, on the theme of The Journey, a physical or emotional journey.  For more info look at: www.wordsforthewounded.co.uk

 

I know there are lots of writing competitions happening all the time – maybe it’s about time Loose Muse started its own in 2014 – but these are some to get you all writing, and maybe it’ll be a Loose Muse supporter who actually wins.  Hooray.

 

Next Loose Muse is on December 11th, with Manchester poet Rebecca Smith and romantic crime novelist Claire Dunn, so it promises to be another good one you’ll be sorry to miss.

So come along and share the passion, share the joy,

Love – Agnes

THINGS GOING BUMP AND OTHER PUMPKIN HEADS

The pumpkin decapitator strikes again!

The lights were low, the atmosphere was spooky, and the stories and poems were straight out of the Hammer Studios.  No, not a scene from ‘Britain’s Most Haunted…’, but the Loose Muse Pre-Hallowe’en Special Gothic Open Mic Night.  Well, being a closet Goth, what else was I going to do for an extra Loose Muse event at the end of October but add a dash of Dracula and the chance to hear some truly horrible writing in the run-up to Hallowe’en.

And we had a good night with lots of variations on the dreadful, the doom-laden and the down-right scary.  For my money Niki Aguirre’s nightmare short story about a woman who dreams of being followed by a faceless Man In Black was one of the high spots, although it did mean I slept with the light on when I went to bed.  That’s the trouble with having such a vivid imagination (and having trained as a psychic…yes, really!), it means every creaking floorboard, cold draft and odd noise in the night freaks me right out.

Having said all that, October is still my favourite month, and Hallowe’en one of the celebrations I enjoy most.  Just to set the record straight for those who’ve been led to believe it’s a night of unparalleled evil and devil worship, Hallowe’en has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which was a celebration of the end of the harvest season, and a preparation for the darkness of winter.  It is an ancient festival when the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead are at their thinnest, and the passage between the two worlds is easiest.  It was also a way for people to celebrate their ancestors and to get in touch with those who had passed over.  So yes, it was sometimes on the scary side (imagine sitting on a hillside in the October darkness centuries ago, with midnight approaching, waiting for that doorway to open and reveal….well, you get the picture!!).

But it had nothing to do with vampires, evil hauntings or devils waiting to snatch your soul away.  That came much later with the church’s hunger for control and power, plus the commercialization that have turned it into what it is today.

When I lived in Canada (about a million years ago), my pals and I had a great variation on the ‘trick or treat’ game where children would knock on your door and ask for sweeties.  Instead, we went ‘trick or drinking’, so every door we knocked on in down-town Vancouver was offered the chance to give us a drink or be ‘tricked’ in some way.  Of course, we didn’t really trick anyone, and by the end of the night we were absolutely plastered.  But we had a great time, and everyone we had a drink with thought it was as much fun as we did.  It’s a different world now of course; if a bunch of strangers turned up at my door one night demanding alcohol, I’d probably call the police!  Aaaah…the innocence of youth.

Anyway, only a few more days to the November Loose Muse, which will be held on the 13th, and feature poet Jacqueline Gabbitas and writer Leah Thorn.  It’s going to be another good one – when are they not – so I hope you can come along and share some of your work with us, be it ghostly, ghoulish or just plain great.

So come along and share the passion, share the joy.

Love,

Agnes

Some pics from the big event…

Art by Lorraine Clarke

Art by Lorraine Clarke

We all had a wonderful time at last night’s event. The Caribbean buffet and wine were flowing, the poets were reading from our outstanding anthology, and generally a fantastic time was had…

Thank you to everyone, and remember, if you’re a lady writer and would like to get published, come along to one of our Loose Muse events. That way, you’ll be eligible to submit and you too could be gracing the stage like some of the lovely ladies below.

Below:

Baraba-Aseka and the marvellous Lorraine Clarke (whose artwork is on the cover of the anthology)

20130919-232128.jpg

Amy Neilson Smith

20130919-232144.jpg

Sue Johns

20130919-232205.jpg

Camilla Reeve

 

 

 

 

Hilaire

 

 

Leila Segal

 

 

 

Cath Drake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivienne Vermes

20130919-232233.jpg

Kirsty Brook, who wowed us all as she performed her work ‘Life test,’ her first published poem.

20130919-232246.jpg

Hilaire

20130919-232304.jpg

Me reading Balaba-Aseka’s fantastic poems, as she was too shy this time. We’re working on her though…

 

A panoramic shot which came out er…smaller than anticipated.

20130919-232623.jpg

This is the last of this year’s funding from the Arts Council, we’ve really tried to help women writers develop and hope we’ve succeeded in promoting the work of all you marvellous ladies out there!

Lots of love from the Loose Muse team,

Agnes, Chikodi and Sara-Mae

20130920-124303.jpg

The Loose Muse launch is coming…

Hi gang,

Have been frantically busy over the past couple of weeks sorting out the next Loose Muse Anthology, the fourth one funded by Arts Council of England – and even though I say so myself, it’s looking pretty damn fine!  Front cover design once more by the incomparable Lorraine Clarke, not only an amazing artist, but also becoming a pretty cool poet; two of her new pieces are included in the Anthology.

Work by a total of 35 writers appears in the Anthology, including 13 whose work has not been included before, which is great news as it means that Loose Muse continues to uncover new talent as well as giving room to established authors who want their work to be included.   And it also includes the work of 5 writers from the North, as we had our first successful Loose Muse Manchester earlier in the Spring, so the anthology has been opened up to everyone who came to that event.  A separate launch and second gig in Manchester will be held on 17th September, with the London launch on 19th September. Full details of both launches are below:

LOOSE MUSE ANTHOLOGY LAUNCHES

LOOSE MUSE MANCHESTER – Tuesday, 17th September

Thomas Bar & Restaurant

49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester M4 1NA

7.00 for 7.30 p.m. –  Donations at the door

Readings from writers included in the Anthology

Hosted by Steph Pike & Agnes Meadows

LOOSE MUSE LONDON – Thursday 19th September

Cotton’s Caribbean Restaurant – the room downstairs

70 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QP

7.00 p.m. for a 7.30 start. A free event, but donations welcome

 

Come to one – come to all – share the passion, share the joy.

 

Agnes Meadows

Host and Coordinator – Loose Muse Women’s Writers’ Night

Tel: 07789-901-667    E: agnespoet@googlemail.com

www.loose-muse.com

Where are all you short fiction writers?

It’s wonderful that we always have so many great poets coming to the Loose Muse events. Every month, lots of women step up to the mic to blow our minds with their lyrical verse. Having said that, we really don’t want anyone to think that we exist for poetry alone. At Loose Muse we encourage ALL women writers (including playwrights, script writers, flash fictioners as well as short fiction and novel writers) to come and perform. We would love to have even more great short stories submitted, for example, to the anthology.

Here is a great short fiction competition which you still have time to enter if you hurry. You can win up to £1000. Anthony Howcroft, the director of InkTears, is looking for writers who have, ‘enough quality short stories’ to publish a collection. Alternatively, they are looking for writers whose work may go into an anthology. So you could enter a competition and find yourself publishing a collection at the end of it!

It sounds like a great opportunity, so don’t miss out. http://www.inktears.com/Inktears/WritersNewWritersContest.html

Elsewhere, Cinnamon Press has some great poetry collection, novella or short story competitions that are still open.  Go to http://www.cinnamonpress.com/competitions/ to take a look.

Book trust is a great website for listing competitions, so do take a look at that as well, although I’ve often found it slightly annoying that they don’t organise the competitions by date relevancy. No one likes clicking for ages to find out that a competition happened back in January!

So all you short story writers, before you send our your brilliant prose to these great competitions, why not come along to Loose Muse and try them out on an audience?

Love,

Sara-Mae

WEASEL WORDS AND THE FAMOUS NOVEL

weasel

 

At last I have some time to continue with The Famous Novel!  Hoooray!!! I seem to have been writing it for about a hundred years, and there are those who probably believe that it’s actually a myth and that I’m just playing at being a writer.  I can’t say I blame them because it’s been several months now since I put down my pen – first I was travelling  then I had a commission to write 10 poems, then I was in hospital, and then life kind of got in the way and I had to do some ‘day job’ work to pay the rent.  All this conspired to prevent me from finishing the master work.

 

But now, finally, I’ve got the Christmas holidays to devote myself to getting my heroine out of the terrible mess she’s in.  As some of you may know, it’s a historical novel – provisional title ‘The Book of Betrayals’ – set in the 12th Century between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades…a turbulent enough period by any standards.  My heroine is a woman soldier (yes, there women soldiers!) who has fought in the regular army of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Comnenus in Constantinople.  But to make life even harder, when the book opens, she regains consciousness in a forest in the south of England, and she’s lost her memory…not a good position for her to be in, especially not with the church’s attitude to women in the 12th Century, and her covered in blood with a jewelled sword in her hand and no idea who she is or what has happened before.

 

If you want to know more, you’ll have to wait until I’ve finished the book and see it on the book-shelves.  I’ve only got another 30,000 words to write before the first draft is finished, and I’m hoping to break the back of that before I return to work on the 7th January.

 

writing

 

As you can imagine, there’s an awful lot of research that goes into writing something historical, and I’ve come across some seriously weird and wonderful facts in my research on life and habits in the 1100’s.  For example – and believe me once you’ve read this, you’ll never ever forget it…promise! – a suggested method of contraception for women was to (wait for it!!) to tie the testicles of a dead weasel round their neck.  I promise you this is true!!!  It’d certainly do the trick, I think…no block would want to come near you once he saw the weasel testicle necklace, and that’s for sure.  Watch this space for more weird and wonderful facts in the weeks to come and things hot up novel-wise.

 

But, writing frenzy notwithstanding, I’m not forgetting the next Loose Muse is on February 13th featuring novelist Kate Fox and playwright poet Nandita Ghose.  AND don’t forget to send in your submissions for the next Loose Muse Anthology by 31ST  January for the third anthology, to be launched early March.

 

AGNES