BrockleyMAX festival live lit and writing workshop from Arachne Press

Story Sessions logo copyThe Story Sessions are back – for a guest spot, maybe for good, depending… We are doing two events plus a workshop for BrockleyMAX. The first two are both on Saturday 30th May The Ladywell Gallery, (what used to be Misty Moon) behind The Ladywell Tavern 80 Ladywell Road SE13 7HS

Writing Workshop – Festival

5pm – 7pm Free; accompanied children over 10 welcome
Arachne Press presents a writing workshop on the theme of Festival. Get inspiration from the exhibition of photographs from previous BrockleyMAX festivals and write a new short story or poem, with the option to read it at The Story Sessions event in the evening.
 run by Cherry Potts
Story Sessions: Festival Tales
7.30pm – 9.30pm Free; accompanied children welcome
A live literature event with stories from Joan Taylor-Rowan and David Bausor, poems from Elinor Brooks and Jennifer A McGowan on a festival theme. Circuses, Street parties and more. Join in with Flash from the Floor – your chance to read your own festival piece (max 100 words).
brockley max ladywell gallery
And finally, on Thursday 4th June at Brockley Deli 14a Brockley Cross, SE4 1BE
The Story Sessions: Feast Tales
8pm – 9pm Free entry; accompanied children 10+ welcome
A free live literature event all about food Stories from Rosalind Stopps, Joan Taylor-Rowan and Jason Jackson, Poems from Jennifer A McGowan and Rob Walton, plus an extract from Devilskein & Dearlove,our Carnegie Nominated young adult novel by Alex Smith – mostly read by our actor friends Peter Noble & Gloria Sanders.
Join us for a story set in a cheese shop, Cranberry Sauce as an excuse for an illicit meeting, trying to win friends with cookies and taking tea with a demon, plus poems about oranges and bay leaves! Order appropriate food to ‘taste-along’.

Word Factory #33 & Masterclass – 30th May – London

Join the Word Factory for readings, conversation, masterclasses and publication with the most inspiring short fiction writers.

The Only Rule Is Yes with Stella Duffy – 1-4pm – SOLD OUT

Stella Duffy won’t teach you how to write the great British novel, provide you with a step-by-step structure with which to write a bestseller, or spend hours reading aloud the works of others so that you can compare your own writing (unfavourably). She will help you acknowledge your writing fears and enthusiasms, find delight in being brave, take the big steps you’ve been dreading and the small steps that feel even harder, and help you remind yourself why you wanted to write in the first place.

Editor’s note: Unfortunately Stella Duffy’s writing workshop is now sold out, however there is time to book your places for Michèle Roberts and David Almond‘s masterclasses at the Tablet festival in Birmingham on 19th June or experience Word Factory at the London Short Story Festival on 21st, June. Take note to be online at 9am on 15th May when we will make tickets available for Neil Gaiman‘s masterclass Q&A with Cathy Galvin taking place on 27th June.

More information and booking here.

Short Story Club – 4.15-5.15pm
Tessa Hadley: One Saturday Morning

Tessa Hadley is a British writer whose short stories appear regularly in the New Yorker. She has published many novels and two short story collections, and she read at the Word Factory salon in February 2015. Her stories have been described as ‘novels in miniature’ and also as ‘domestic fiction’, conjuring as they often do the minutiae of comfortable lives, where subtle shifts and minor observations can take on huge significance. Her stories may tread comfortable territory, but they leave a long-lasting impression of disquiet with the reader.

In ‘One Saturday Morning’, published in The New Yorker in August 2014, ten-year-old Carrie’s piano practice is interrupted by the arrival of Dom, one of her parents’ bohemian friends. We follow her as she tries to make sense of the adult news and events that define the rest of the day. Is this a story in which nothing really happens, or does it illuminate a pivotal coming-of-age moment? Come and discuss this subtle, affecting story with us.

Email Sophie Haydock for more details and a copy of the story:

The Word Factory #33 – the intimate short story salon – 6-8pm

Book your tickets here.

An unmissable evening of Irish lyricism and fire. Join acclaimed new Irish talent Danielle McLaughlin, recently published in the New Yorker; Belfast-born Word Factory associate director Paul McVeigh; author and power-house Stella Duffy (Ireland via New Zealand) and Dubliner Evelyn Conlon for new work and conversation focused on the enduring strength of the Irish short story. Blarney-free discussion guaranteed, chaired by Cathy Galvin (Ireland via Coventry) .

Word Factory #32 & Masterclass – 25th April – London

Join the Word Factory for readings, conversation, masterclasses and publication with the most inspiring short fiction writers.

Performance, confidence and voice with A.L. Kennedy – SOLD OUT

Booking for our masterclasses are now available online through to June. Word Factory regulars have already booked their tickets for A.L Kennedy’s April class – but don’t miss the chance to work with Stella Duffy at her workshop in May where the only rule is yes. Our masterclasses are also travelling to Birmingham in June with Michele Roberts and David Almond. Click the links above to book your place.

In June Neil Gaiman will also be giving an exclusive class and reading: details on our website soon.

Short Story Club – 4.30-5.30pm
Italo Calvino: All at One Point

Calvino’s The Complete Cosmicomics is a collection of stories, all narrated by the character Qfwfq, each of which takes a scientific fact as a starting point for a fantastical narrative.The first translated edition (from Italian) won the National Book Award in America, and it is one of Calvino’s best known works alongside If on a Winter’s Night A Traveller and Invisible Cities.

In ‘All at One Point’, Calvino takes the notion of the universe’s matter all being concentrated at one point before it began to expand, and imagines Qfwfq and other characters dealing with this situation. It combines a scientific flight of fancy with a familiar-feeling tale of neighbourly tensions, as at the inhabitants of the point clash over gossip, opinions and shared attractions. This is a story which does not fit contemporary expectations. Do you find it satisfying, silly, or wondrously clever? Come and discuss ‘All at One Point’ at the Word Factory Short Story Club in April.

Email Sophie Haydock for more details and a copy of the story:

The Word Factory #32 – the intimate short story salon – 6.30-8.30pm

Book your tickets here.

Celebrate spring with award-winning authors and fresh talent at The Word Factory. A.L. Kennedy leads our perfomance skills masterclass before joining international star Yiyun Li, our mentor Adam Marek and apprentice Kerstin Twachtmann for readings at the evening salon. The conversation will continue with Director Cathy Galvin, co-founder of the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

Felixstowe Book Festival: Flash Fiction Event & Short Story Comp

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Felixstowe Book Festival (27-28th June 2015) will be hosting a flash fiction workshop where writers will be encouraged to write flash fiction on the spot and read it out afterwards. Prizes for best stories will be provided, in the form of a selection of anthologies from National Flash Fiction Day.

In addition, entries are now open for their annual short story competition (max word count 1000). This year’s theme is ‘On the Margins’ and the winner and two runners up will be invited to read their stories at the festival. Prizes include a year’s subscription to the EADT Suffolk Magazine. Read the full details HERE. Closing date is Sat 16th May.

Social Media for Writers & That Killer First Page – Submitting to Competitions and Journals, London & Belfast

Social Media Masterclass for Writers with Paul McVeigh – 1st March


Led by Paul McVeigh, The Society Club, London, is pleased to host 750,000 PEOPLE CAN’T BE WRONG: A Social Media Masterclass for Writers.

Paul McVeigh will be discussing how social media is transforming the way writers communicate with each other, the industry and readers. From Facebook to Twitter, blogs to websites, having a social media presence is becoming more and more essential for writers at all levels. Paul’s blog has reached more than 750,000 people and through his efforts in social media, has led directly to becoming Associate Director at Word Factory, Director of the London Short Story Festival and his reading on Radio 5. His debut novel, The Good Son, will be published by Salt Publishing in April 2015

Paul McVeigh will explore how to improve your social media profile, plan more effective strategies and better connect with your audience and readers.

This is the class if you are looking to improve your social media profile, enhance the effectiveness of your current activity, grow your online audience or are new to social media and looking to get started.

WHEN: Sunday, March 1st, 2015
TIME: 1pm-6pm
WHERE: The Society Club, 12 Ingestre Place, Soho, London W1F0JF

Space is limited, please reserve your place now. Email


That Killer First Page – Submitting to Competitions and Journals March 8th

Crescent Arts Centre, 2-4 University Road, Belfast. BT7 1NH.

March 8th. 11am-4pm. Tickets

You’ll find out what competition judges and journal editors look for in a short story and how to avoid the rejection pile. You’ll write a short piece and get feedback on that crucial story opening. In a form where every word counts, get tips on staying focused on your story and where to start the action. You’ll also look at submission opportunities; how to find them and where you should be sending your stories.

How to get the attention of competition judges and editors
Writing fiction with emotional impact
Writing that killer first page
How to edit your story
Where to send your work

Paul McVeigh’s short fiction has been published in journals and anthologies and been commissioned by BBC Radio 4. He has read his work for BBC Radio 5, at the International Conference on the Short Story in Vienna, Belfast Book Festival and the Cork International Short Story Festival.

Reviews for his writing:
“Absolutely loved it. The voice of that story is so arresting.” Jackie Kay
“Beautiful and very moving.” Booker shortlisted Alison Moore
“How moving and stunning that story is. It’s so raw and incredibly human.” Costa shortlisted Jess Richards
“Its such a clever story, gentle, poignant, emotionally straight as a dart.” Vanessa Gebbie
“(one of) Ireland’s most exciting and talented writers.  Incredibly moving; poignant but utterly real, funny and beautifully observant.” BBC Radio 4
“Paul McVeigh’s story stands out. Funny, moving, poignant. Brilliant.” Metro Newspaper

Paul’s short story blog shares writing opportunities and advice and gets 40,000 hits a month internationally. He’s interviewed short story masters like Kevin Barry, Cate Kennedy and George Saunders and upcoming Laura van den Berg and Elizabeth McCrackin.

Paul is Director of London Short Story Festival and Creative Director at Word Factory, the UK’s leading short story literary salon. He is a reader and judge for national and international short story competitions.

This event sold out in Melbourne at Writers Victoria and Waterstones Piccadilly, London.

Comments on this class:

“Fantastic! Practical, targeted advice like this is wonderful!”
“This was my fav course yet! Informative, entertaining, and engaging. Hard to beat.”

“I emerged from the sleepy hamlet of my writing infancy last Saturday and was sky-rocketed, hurricaned, tsunamied, autobahned and g-forced out of my head by Paul McVeigh’s “That Killer First Page” Masterclass at Waterstones, Piccadilly. He’s on top of his game, gives instinctive, constructive criticism and in a few short hours, had conveyed the essence of how to make a story compelling and unputdownable from the first few lines. Not for the faint hearted – the pace is relentless – but get on one of his courses if you can.”

Paul’s debut novel ‘The Good Son’ is out with Salt Publishing in April.

‘A work of genius…’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Robert Olen Butler

‘Outstanding.’ Granta Best Young Novelist Toby Litt

‘I was blown away… A wildly important new talent.’ Laura van den Berg

‘One of those characters you believe in with all your heart.’ Booker shortlisted Alison Moore

‘Establishes McVeigh as an important new Irish voice.’ Lucy Caldwell

Places are limited to 20. For concessions please contact:

Write Around Town Workshops in London

sonia delaunayThree weekends in which we explore how art, objects and places inspire writing.

Whether it’s for you or your characters, we’ll walk, eat and write our way around London’s art galleries. Through story fragments, sketches, and experimental writing you’ll engage with some of this spring’s major exhibitions in London.

No writing or drawing experience is necessary, but a willingness to play and experiment is. The Write Around Town workshops are devised to suit writers and artists of all levels. All participants will be included in Writers in the Crowd II, an anthology of writing in the city.

The weekends are stand-alone workshops and can be booked to suit your needs and interests. The more you book, the cheaper they get! When booking, please let us know which weekends you’d like to attend. If you have any questions, please contact us through this link or at

limited to 8 participants per weekend

Cost: One weekend = £105, Two weekend = £195, Three weekends = £260

cost includes entrance to exhibitions and light refreshments

For more details and to book, click here.

Weekend #1, Painting and Politics: April 24, 25, 26 (Only 3 Places Left)

Weekend #2, Images and Things: June 5, 6, 7

Weekend #3, Drawing and Daring: July 3, 4, 5

The workshops are devised and led by Shaun Levin. He has been teaching creative writing since 1997 and has run workshops and given talks at The National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Ben Uri Gallery, and the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery in Leeds. He has recently published work on the artists Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg, and is the author of Seven Sweet Things and A Year of Two Summers, amongst other books. Shaun is the creator of Writing Maps.

Pens to the ready! Mslexia’s Short Story Competition 2015 is now open…

A new year is upon us (honestly, where does the time go?) and what better way to limber up for the creative year ahead than entering Mslexia’s annual short story competition for women writers.

Mslexia Women's Short Story Competition 2015

Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition 2015

The first prize is a whopping £2,000 – one of the biggest in the genre – and comes with two optional extras: a week’s retreat at Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre in Wales, and a day with a Virago editor. Judging the competition this year is novelist, short story writer and essayist Alison MacLeod, whose novel Unexploded was long-listed for the 2013 Man-Booker Prize.

The closing date for the competition is 16 March 2015: plenty of time to start work on a new piece of writing or re-visit an old draft. And to guide you on your way – if, indeed, any guidance is needed – Mslexia has commissioned a series of writing workshops to stimulate new ideas and help get your story into submission-ready shape. The first workshop delves into the art of character development and includes three new writing exercises; keep an eye on the Mslexia website for two more workshops leading up to the deadline.

Last year’s competition winner Jackie Brewster said, ‘I’ve been floating on a little cloud ever since I received the phone call. I thought it was good enough to enter, but I never dreamed it was good enough to win.’ Francesca Armour-Chelu, 2013 winner, credited the competition as the reason that she found an agent ‘after years of rejection letters’. As they say, the proof in the pudding, and Mslexia‘s competition really has given so many writers a foot up the ladder – this year you could be one of them.

Full details of how to enter are on the Mslexia website. Best of luck with your entry!