Friday, April 26, 2019

Recently Published and other news



May 2019 update

My short fiction Coming of Age finally published - after a slight formatting hiccough - on May 4th by the literary journal Setu

My 50-worder Impossible Choice was published by 50 Word Stories - you can read it there too.

The link for The Mackenzies will be posted on May 26th.



April 2019 saw my short story Daniel published in the Wells Street Journal. If you'd like to read it it's on page 56 Wells Street Journal Liminal Edition - I wasn't able to make the great looking launch in London - but was with all of the other contributors in spirit.  My thanks to all at Wells Street for believing in my work.

A few days later Mike and Sophie was published by 50-words. If you like, you can read it here Mike and Sophie by S.B. Borgersen - you may need to scroll down that page.

In other writerly news my flash fiction Daylight Robbery was shortlisted by Strands who have announced good news shortly!

And two flashes, The Mackenzies and Seeing the Light have been accepted  by Fewerthan500 for publication later this summer. The Mackenzies will be published on 26 May and Seeing the Light in August.

http://www.thedrabble.com published my micro fiction Partners on May 3rd 2019. They've added a lovely image to the story too.

Ad Hoc, of course is a continuing saga - to which I've contributed since January 2016.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Writing rules - do they inhibit creativity?

Two members of Writers Abroad, on opposite sides of the North American continent, discuss this age-old topic.
Part 1 (Part 2 will be posted next week)
SB: M, You recently said that perfection can be a barrier for a writer, can you expand on that?
MS: I’m really referring to my own work which I often compare to that of others, I feel my work could be more polished.
SB: What do you mean by polished M? Do you mean in terms of the rules of writing?
MS: Yes, and no. It is so beneficial to belong to Writers Abroad and have this wide and diverse membership read my work and offer suggestions for the many ways to change and improve it… but… my concern is that the heart of the work could get diluted. In striving for perfection, will the story lose some of its soul?
SB: I know exactly what you mean. IMHO, as long as the critiques and reviews are suggestions, they can be taken or otherwise. Who is making the rules anyway. There is a trend now for the writer to be much more true to themselves.
MS: In what way S?
SB: Personally, I feel there are times to forget about grammar – for instance, and this is just an example. Let’s take sentence structure, there could be times when, say, a series of two-word (or even one-word) sentences will add to the texture, to the tension, to the rhythm of the work.
MS: Interesting. When I submit a piece for review that is in the first stage of creation  I’d much rather hear about how my work makes a reader feel, than to know I’ve missed out a semi colon for instance. After that, when the work is not as vulnerable, I’m all for suggestions on sentence structure and writing rules, like show, not tell and so on. Then, of course, there’s this polish that many publishers state in their calls for submission.
SB: Oh yes, when it comes to polish, I’m inclined to look at it a bit like a painting – you know how you can overwork a painting – there has to be a time to leave well alone. Over polishing can take the shine right off. You can take all the perfection away by trying to make it more perfect. But observing the rules – and then breaking them can also work.
MS: Ha S! Like your Picasso analogy? 
SB: Aaaah, the story goes that Picasso had to go to art school and learn all the rules (and there are good examples of how he executed those rules as a student) – but then he was true to himself, and look at his success. Looking at his work, I do see all the deep understanding of those rules. Not visible. But understood.
MS: Back to the rules (you see how I have to keep bringing you back on topic!) – are we still talking about grammar here, or rules laid down by publishers.
SB: Gosh, M. Publishers’ guidelines are a whole n’other kettle of fish. They all seem different. Fonts, formats, etc etc etc. But I think once you find a good fit with a publisher, they will respond very kindly once they see the spirit of the work. But they can still be tricky. I understand Margaret Atwood still, after a lifetime as a successful author, has to negotiate small stuff with her editor (trading a comma with a semi colon for instance). It’s the writing world.
MS: But what about self publishing – I’ve had great success with mine. At least I could be true to myself with that.
SB: And that’s the nutshell of it M – being true to ourselves – but also being happy to consider the invaluable suggestions made by our WA members and our teams of beta readers. Happy Birthday by the way.
Part 2 next week. Join M and S as they take this discussion further, maybe addressing some of your comments and feedback.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

My Love Affair with Poetry

My Love Affair with Poetry - Scratching the Surface



From an early age I loved story books - especially where the stories were told in verse. I was raised on Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses in the 1940s. In the 50s I subscribed to a magazine (6d per fortnight) called Sunny Stories which contained ‘jolly’ poems along with ‘splendid’ stories. In the 1960s, my children loved the Ladybird rhyming stories: Bunnikin’s Picnic Party, Ginger’s Adventures, and Smoke and Fluff. We especially loved Smoke and Fluff, the tale of two naughty kittens. I can hear us reading together until we no longer needed to turn the pages as we remembered every predictable melodic syllable.




Predictability helped remembering. Being able to retell the tale. Throughout history it was easier in verse. Storytelling was as important then as now. And listeners often loved that they already knew how the tale went, finding comfort in its predictability.

These days we may more often look for poems that are thought-provoking and surprising. Have you noticed how poetry is currently serving many more purposes with wider and wider audiences? In many forms and platforms too. e.g. The Nationwide Building Society is going great guns with its spoken word performance poetic advertising, so is The Royal Navy to mention just a couple.
And just look at the popularity of rappers like Nicki Minaj with:
I said, excuse me you're a hell of a guy
I mean my, my, my, my you're like pelican fly
I mean, you're so shy and I'm loving your tie
You're like slicker than the guy with the thing on his eye…
If that’s not poetry then I don’t know what is.
I won’t talk about well known poets like Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Alfred Lord Tennyson or Dylan Thomas in this blog - instead, I’d like to give a mention to songwriters who were poets, like Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and, of course, The Beatles. Naming but a few of those who often write/wrote the poetry first. They sure found the form, the language and the melody, and in that, their music.

Poetry can be experimental. Phrases can be spare. Message essences are captured. Then up will pop that spark, followed by a flame which gives us the light to see reason and our own view. Causing us to stop and think. Like therapy. Poetry has a job to do and it does it in so multifaceted ways. Open to interpretation (like a painting.) You don’t necessarily have to understand it either. As a reader, it becomes yours and yours alone. To enjoy the sounds, the rhythms, and yes, the melody.  Always there to be revisited. To be rediscovered.
My love of poetry has never wained through the decades. I have explored the old poets and the very new. The war poets, the romantic poets, the rappers, the translated and the balladeers. I’ve also found an abundance of prolific local poets. I’ve collected books of poetry from Burns to Betjeman. I dip into them - read and reread. On occasions, in just a few lines, I’m transported to unimaginable places and times.
I’ve participated in poetry workshops with well-known and lesser-known poets. I’ve also held poetry workshops myself (I’m one of the lesser-knowns!) in an effort to pass on my love of the art form. Over the years I have written much more poetry than prose. With some publishing successes along the way e.g. in the 2009 anthology below: 


Composing poetry helps with my fiction writing too. I often edit by turning prose into a poem and back into prose (I find that a good exercise).

I hope I’ve inspired you to read some poetry, we don’t necessarily have to understand it all to enjoy the language and the melody. Or write something, I dare ya! Post a few lines in the comments.

Mary Oliver, the much loved American poet, died on January 17th this year. So I will leave you with the opening to one of her works and hope it helps you to understand this love affair I have with poetry.

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created. 
Under the orange 

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again 

from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver 


All lyrics and images used in this blog are available on public domains.

Poetry by S.B. Borgersen can be found on Amazon, Lulu, ArtAscent and at The Foundation for Public Poetry. Links can be found on Sue’s Writers Abroad profile and the website sueborgersen.com.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

January's interview

In case you missed it - here's ths link:

On being an Ad Hoccer


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Updated Writing Biography

It's time to update the bio, I'm told. So here it is, warts and all. This should probably start with the most recent achievement - but that's not the way I roll. 

Sporting 87 of my Ad Hoc stories on my Litographs scarf. December 2017


S.B. Borgersen - short biography

Once described in the writing world as a ‘third space inhabitant’, S.B. Borgersen, originally from England, writes and makes art on the glorious shores of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Sue’s favoured genres are poetry, short and micro fiction. She is published internationally in anthologies, and arts and literary magazines, in print and online. She’s currently re-working one of her eleven NaNoWriMo novels into a novella-in-flash.

S.B. Borgersen is a long-standing member of The Nova Scotia Writers’ Federation, a keen member of the expat writers’ group Writers Abroad, and a founding member of The Liverpool Literary Society. Sue was a judge for the Atlantic Writing Competition (Poetry Category) 2016 and Hysteria (Poetry) 2017.

  

Achievements and publications - S.B. Borgersen:
1958 My Life Story: told by Laika, the sputnik dog in The Crusader, the first school magazine from King Richard School Dhekelia.
The missing years, mountains of non-fiction, only slightly creative, technical and training documentation.
2000 The Wings of the Doves in A Drop in the Ocean, a collection of six short stories, published by Brave Waves. A writer initiated project, a result of the NSCC creative writing programme.
2000 2nd place with The White Wisteria in South Shore Literary Society annual competition. ($50 prize!)
2001 2nd place (poetry) with Life in the Atlantic Writing Competition. (another $50 prize!)
2009 The big breakthrough: Sister of No Mercy, one of 75 poems from poets around the world in Leonard Cohen You're Our Man, from the Foundation for Public Poetry, to celebrate Mr Cohen’s 75th birthday. Leonard Cohen You're Our Man
2011 20 Winners at the Game of Life, essays by successful women, published by Parker and Watson. 20 Winners at the Game of Life
2012 Mail Order Bride in Foreign Encounters, a Writers Abroad anthology.Foreign Encounters
2012 Layers, poems and photographs. Self published using Lulu Layers
2013 Shortlisted by the CBC for The Song that Changed Your Life.
2013 Edited, designed and produced Distant Voices, talking drums A Six Week, Long Distance Poetry Project for More Writers Abroad. Published using LuluDistant Voices
2013 Peeling, 39 poems and photographs written in 2012 and 2013. Published using Lulu
2013 Knickers a creative non-fiction essay, was published in the anthology Foreign and Far Away. This work subsequently received acknowledgment from the provincial government of Nova Scotia for the manner in which it addressed the tragedy of the Bangladesh factory disaster and compared it with excellent working conditions in the Maritime underwear factory, Stanfields, 100 years earlier. Foreign and Faraway
2013 to present: contributed to ArtAscent, the international arts and lit journal with flash fictions: Emergence, The Sequence Dance, The Green Dress, Loved to Death, and Three Anthems for Althea, along with the poems, The Feel of Dark, Eating an Orange Before Breakfast, and Point of View, in addition to visual art. ArtAscent
2015 Solas, a collection of short poems on the subject of light was published in Kaleidoscope.Kaleidoscope
2016 Stiff as Boards, short story set in the Canadian Maritimes, published by Centum Press in 100 Voices Volume 1.100 Voices volume 1
A consistent contributor to Ad Hoc since January 2016, with her micro story, Walter’s Quest, being pronounced a winner in September 2017. http://adhocfiction.com
2016 Then I Kissed Her in Adverbially Challenged published by Chris Fielden. http://www.christopherfielden.com
2017 Wrong Stones in Nonsensically Challenged also published by Chris Fielden
2017 Shapes and Trip of a Lifetime, two short stories, shortlisted by Writing magazine.
2017 Tonight’s the Night longlisted in the Bath Flash Competition and published in To Carry Her Home - Bath Flash Fiction Volume 1. To Carry Her Home

2017 Interview with Hysteria https://www.hysteriauk.co.uk/2017/06/06/an-interview-with-sue-borgersen-poetry-category-judge-for-hysteria-2017/

2017 24 Hours of a Canadian Winter, first prize in Writing magazine’s Numbers Poetry competition.

2018 an interview with Jude Higgins of Bath Flash Fiction Award https://bathflashfictionaward.com/2018/01/on-being-an-adhoccer-s-b-borgersen/

2018 My poem 'How You Thing You Might Find Happiness' published by ArtAscent in their April 2018 issue. https://artascent.com

2018 Hit the 100 mark with Ad Hoc. That is 100 micro (150 words) story without a break. Looking for a publisher. 100 stories. 100 pages. What's not to like?

2018 Tuesdays (a short-short story) accepted by Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine for their 11.1 edition.

2018 My short The Blackout takes the 'featured story - Gold' place in June's issue of ArtAscent. The review by Oleksandra Osadcha is overwhelming.

2019 Daniel was accepted in February and published in April by Wells Street Journal https://wellsstreetjournal.com on page 56.

2019 Coming of Age accepted by Setu. Published May 3rd Coming of Age

2019 Daylight robbery Shortlisted by Strands

2019 Mike and Sophie accepted by 50-words on April 11 2019  https://fiftywordstories.com

2019 - May 3rd Partners published on The Drabble http://www.thedrabble.com

  

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Should We Write When We Are Sick

Not a Christmas blog for you, nevertheless, it is seasonal for many, I am sure.





You’re as weak as a kitten, high on medication, defying healing advice, and the ‘r’ word: ‘rest’.

Why the defiance? Why can’t you just give in and concentrate on getting well?

Because you are a writer of course, and you are at a time in your life when writing is on a par with breathing. You have words to capture, protagonists to develop, and scenes and sequels abounding in your head. And yes, you still have stories to tell.

Especially in November.

November seems to be my month for picking up some bug or other and depleting my strength. It keeps me housebound and I get through copious amounts of tea.

It is also National Novel Writing Month. A month on thousands of writers’ calendars as the 30 days in which to draft a novel. This year was my 11th official year, and I’d almost decided give NaNo a miss. That was until some of the members of my incredible international writing group, Writers Abroad, threw the temptation my way.

But I was sick.

I kicked the month off with cellulitis requiring high dose antibiotics, you don’t really need to know that, other than it affected all I did for the rest of the month. Mid-month left-eye cataract surgery meant I was functioning on blurry vision while waiting for the right eye. Then, shock horror, a serious chest infection flattened me.  Some of the meds induced hallucinating effects. 

But, you know what, I didn’t stop writing. Hallucinating effects can be precious to a writer. Delirium is like treasure. My NaNo novel was like a runaway train, sometimes clocking up over 3,000 words a day. I began on November 1st with only a title and a book cover design (because that’s the way I roll), and then I wrote up a storm to fill those covers and do the title justice.


I crossed the finish line on November 20th, a week before my 74th birthday. Over 50,000 words accomplished in under 3 weeks.

So, I ask you again, should you write when you are sick? It’s a personal question. My reply is, ‘yes’. This draft novel wouldn’t exist without the NaNo challenge and the team spirit of Writers Abroad, and here’s the thing, those words would be different if I hadn’t been sick, if I’d been bright eyed and bushy tailed. Quite different.

And that’s what makes our writing unique, we haven’t just captured words, protagonists, scenes et al, we’ve captured the way we, as writers, feel at a particular moment in time.

And I know that when I open up my draft novel in the new year I will ask myself, ‘did I really write that?'

My congratulations to my WA colleagues on achieving their NaNo novels too. Between us, we’ve written over a quarter of a million words in 30 days.

A very happy Christmas to you all.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Taking Stock




I guess it is time to catalogue some of my writing successes. Seeing your work in print, out there in the big wide world, gives a tingle of a thrill, I suppose. Listing it is a challenge. I'm sure I'll miss some, but here's a start:

My little sonnet Twenty Four Hours of a Canadian Winter won first prize in the numbers poetry competition in Writing Magazine 2017 Writers Online October 2017


Find my poem Sister of No mercy in Leonard Cohen You’re Our Man published to coincide with Mr Cohen’s 75th birthday in 2009  Leonard Cohen You're Our man


I'm also a lucky regular contributor of poetry, short prose, and art
in the Arts and Lit Journal ArtAscent ArtAscent
including:

Lost October 2017
Point of View August 2017
Reading a Poem Before Breakfast June 2017
Garden #1 and Temptation October 2016
Girl in a Green Dress June 2016
Mail-order Bride June 2015
Loved to Death October 2014
The Feel of Dark December 2013
The Sequence Dance October 2013
Mother Earth August 2013
Emergence June 2013

AdHoc Fiction - a sub set of Bath Flash have taken my 150 worders every week for close on two years. Ad Hoc is a weekly online book of micro stories. I've also managed to have a couple of my illustrations accepted. My story Walter's Quest was pronounced a winner. You can read it here Walter's Quest a September winner if you scroll down to September 2017.

Bath Flash Fiction long listed my short story Tonight's the Night (which had to undergo some editing out of song lyrics before publication) - but it's a great anthology and I'm chuffed to be included. The anthology is called To Carry Her Home.

There is much more - which I will add on an ad hoc basis (don't you just love your Latin!) but for now, I'll leave it right there.