February Round-Up I

Greetings, short story lovers!
Here’s what’s been on a packed ShortStops blog over the past few weeks…

Tania x

Live Lit

The Word Factory #30 is in London on Feb 14th, with live lit, a short story reading group and masterclass. White Rabbit want your short stories for their Curioser and Curioser storytelling tea party on Feb 20th in London. Stand-Up Tragedy’s next event, Tragic Winter, is in London on Feb 28th and they are calling for submissionsfor the SUT blog.

Lit Mags

February is ‘Otherworldly Originals Month’ over at Short Story Sunday! Jotters United’s Isssue 10 is now out and they’re calling for submissions. Bunbury Magazine has unveiled Issue Seven: The Unexplained. Shooter Literary Magazine is  calling for submissions for Issue #2, on the theme of ‘Union.’ On the theme of themes, Brain of Forgetting’s first issue, Stones, is now available, and submissions for Issue 2 open shortly. Neon Magazine has opened submissions for Battery Pack II, its second anthology of tiny stories.  Other mags still want your stories too: The Manchester Review has is calling for your submissions.

Anthologies
Freight Books wants short story submissons for an anthology inspired by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

Competitions & Festivals
Mslexia’s 2015 short story competition is now open for entries (women only), deadline March 16th. The Short FICTION short story prize is open for entries, deadline March 31st, as are the Felixtstowe Book Festival’s 2015 short story competition, deadline May 16th and The Moth’s International Short Story Prize, deadline June 30th. Words and Women have announced the winners of their writing competition.

Workshops and Courses
Berko Writers is holding a night to talk about sex and writing, Turn Me On, in Berkhamstead, Feb 10th. Alison Clayborn is running a Flash Fiction workshop  on Feb 18th at the Brunel Museum in London.

And Ireland has a new national residential writing centre – The Story House in County Waterford, which is running a short story course from Mar 23-28th.

Writing Advice
Bruce Harris introduces us to Writing Short Fiction, ‘a site for sore eyes’.

If you are eager for even more short-story-related news, do follow ShortStops on Twitter where, when we should be writing, we spend (far too) much time passing on news from lit mags, live lit events, short story workshops and festivals! If you’d like to review an event or a publication, drop me a line.

Happy reading, writing, listening and performing!
Tania x

Turn Me On

By Julie Mayhew

It started off as an argument on a short story course.

Men tend to put sex into short stories when it isn’t relevant at all to the plot, characters or mood, I said.

It was a sexist line to take. I know.

Adam Marek our brilliant tutor at Berko Writers had urged us to read the latest Murakami story in The New Yorker.

I had and then I had scrolled through other stories in the archive, with The Berko Speakeasy in mind. Could we read this story aloud at a future event?

Often the answer would be ‘no’ because a story would be ticking along nicely, brilliantly, and then there would be a gratuitious and graphic sex scene.

There’s no rule to say we won’t read sex scenes aloud at the Speakeasy – we’re not prudes and neither are our audience – but there’s a certain dynamic in that room, with reader making eye contact with audience, that asks that if we are going to describe graphic sex it has to mean something. In a lot of these stories I felt it didn’t.

I brought this argument to the table at our next workshop.

It got heated.

Don’t female writers write bad sex in their own unique ways too? suggested one.

Probably.

Is sex ever any good when it’s on the page? asked another.

Oh, it must be, sometimes, surely…

BadLiterarySex_Feb15

So that’s what led us to organising Turn Me On, a night to discuss the sex scene, good and bad, from Lady Chatterley to Christian Grey.

We’d love you to come and join the debate – and bring along your favourite sex scenes from literature.

Let’s put this argument to bed.

Turn Me On: A night of good (and very bad) literary sex
7pm, Tues 10th Feb, Upstairs at Here Cafe, Berkhamsted
For more information and to book go to the Berko Writers website.