Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Garden of Eden in ArtAscent

Absolutely thrilled to see a couple of images of my work in the August 2016 issue of the international arts and literary journal, Art Ascent. This isn't the first time this fabulous magazine has carried my images, but it's the first time that the images are of my work.  On pages 72 and 73 you'll see Garden and Temptation, two pieces of wearable art (pendants) in fine silver from my new collection: Garden of Eden. A link to the publication is here.

ArtAScent V20

I will be posting more images of the collection (just follow the link 'wearable art in silver' on the right), which is not complete by a long chalk; with a new delivery of FYI silver I'll be busy over the next couple of months. Once complete, the collection will go to the Lilieth Boutique in Liverpool.

In the meantime, be still my beating heart...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Other Side of Writing Competitions

Early this year I was asked to be a reader for the Annual Atlantic Writing Competition.  This competition has been running for over 40 years under the auspices of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia   and draws submissions from all of Canada’s Atlantic provinces (Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.)

It is a competition designed to motivate emerging writers in six categories: creative non-fiction; novel, poetry, short story, writing for children, and  young adult novel. Interestingly, established writers can also enter - but only in a category that is new to them.

The submission category I was asked to read was poetry.  There were guidelines for the reader. In addition to reading, you were expected to provide constructive feedback (nothing negative, only motivating comments, suggestions for further reading maybe, and no marketing ideas.) I was indeed honoured. I had won a second place in this category in 2001. I had no idea just what a ride I was in for. Fortunately I had a ‘reader partner’ - more on that later.

I was presented with over 70 manuscripts that constituted collections of up to 5 poems from anonymous poets. My job was, together with my fellow reader, to come up with a shortlist of five. I read the collection early in the mornings. Late at nights. On rainy days. On snowy days. On bright sunlit days. And out loud to hubby and the dogs as we drove down the coast on our many winter outings. I think that last approach was the clincher.

I came to the conclusion that I could only place the five I enjoyed the most on top of my pile. These were poems that had lines that stuck with me, that left me with visuals, that made me smile, that made me cry. That informed and educated me (eg - did you know that it takes a sloth a month to eat a lettuce leaf.) And poems that sang with a pure clear unique voice.

The poems that finished up at the bottom of my pile were those that were soaked in seIf pity, that were all about I, I, I, and me. me, me. I’m sorry emerging poets, it’s all very well to express yourselves in your work, but maybe you should try song writing instead.  I didn’t say that in my critique but suggested to these entrants that they try rewriting in the 2nd person - to involve and include the reader.  Wandering lonely as a cloud can’t alway work in today’s world.

It was time to consult my fellow reader. I had never met him, and still haven’t. We discussed the poems via Skype video.  It didn’t take long to find we had come up with the same shortlist. Pretty amazing, really, considering he is a young guy and I am an ancient gal. We concluded that we’d selected the poems that really spoke to us. That resonated with us.

And we submitted our findings.

When the results of final judging were announced I was pretty chuffed to see that the winning order matched mine. It was a cathartic moment in my writing career in an odd sort of way. It gave me courage of my own convictions - something that I have often doubted.

Being a reader, a critic, a reviewer can, I believe, make better authors and poets of us. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Turn Up for the Books

Well how about that then?  Longlisted for the prestigious Bath Flash Fiction Award with my 300-worder, Tonight's the Night. I'm over the moon and although my funny little tale set in the 50s didn't make it to the short list - it was at least up there in the most fabulous international company.  And it will be published in the BFFA Anthology at the end of this year. So I'm happy. Deliriously so. Here are the winners - and well deserved indeed: winners

I'm not letting the grass grow though. Another coup with one of my illustrations. It has been accepted to illustrate the Ad Hoc story Lights Out by Sian Brighal. Here is my illustration:

I'm pretty chuffed to say the least. Wouldn't you be? If you want to pop on over to look at the story with the illustration first check out my story Not Mimi, ( on page 20 - I think - if you like it please vote - then drop over onto the winners page and scroll down to mid May for the Lights Out story with my (hopefully) intriguing illustration. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ad Hoc Fiction

Each week Ad Hoc Fiction - run by Bath Flash Fiction Award - posts a prompt word. They throw down the challenge to write a 150 word story that includes the prompt in some way.

For 21 consecutive weeks I have taken the challenge and now have quite the collection. You can read the e-book for free for 7 days - then at midnight UK time on a Tuesday it disappears and the next week's book is posted along with a new prompt.

It's all good stuff and really good for 'those little grey cells'. It is also loads of fun.  If ever you need to know which page my story is on - give me a holler and then you can vote for it if you like it. Find this week's issue here - I am on page 12. The title: Choice.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tingling fingers and overactive brain

The 2016 Collection  -  the Garden of Eden

There has been a flurry of activity in this Borgersen brain of late.  Submissions of writings are going out at a rapid rate of knots on the old adage that 'you've gotta be innitt ta winnitt.'

Successes are beginning to trickle in with a royalties offer from Centum Press. A weekly 150 word submission to Ad Hoc for their e-books is materialising in acceptance and an ever growing pile of 150 word nutshell stories for me to dispose of elsewhere later. You can read the current issue here: Ad Hoc flash fiction weekly e-book

In the past three years ArtAscent has taken my work on 7 occasions. The current issue carries my short story Girl in a Green Dress - on page 80 I think. It is a superb but expensive publication, luxurious in print - but pretty swish online too.

The motivation has come from the wonderful support of the members of Writers Abroad - without that support I probably would have still been living with self doubt.

And now the fingers have been tingling to get the silver clay out. And voila - we have a new collection in fine silver 'The Garden of Eden'.  I'm pretty chuffed that the entire session is 100% successful. With the price of silver clay escalating at a rate of knots (isn't that where I started with this brief blog entry?) - it could be some time before I get my fingers mucky again. Ho hum.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2016 Resolutions Progress

It has been quite a year so far. I made a New Year's resolution in January (don't we all?) and promised myself I would keep up with submissions, at least one per month.  Here we are in May and I have far exceeded my resolve; submitting a minimum of one piece a week.

And with some success, I might add.  Stiff As Boards was accepted by Centum Press in April - a royalties deal no less. Yippee. The book's possible title is 100 Voices -  it will contain 100 stories from around the world - sounds logical - and I do like books with such international flavour. 2017 is the anticipated launch. Watch this space.

I have now had seventeen 150 word pieces longlisted by Ad Hoc each week.  Those certainly get the speed-writing side of the brain in gear, and are so much fun. here is a wee taster from a couple of weeks ago. It is called Lady in Red:

She wears Valentino red. Her model face shows no emotion. Except her unforgettable violet eyes scanning the room.

The air in the room hangs as she enters. The gabble-talk hum stops. She descends the wide staircase. Her black, elbow length, gloved hand snakes its way down the golden handrail like an elegant caterpillar. Her feet, unseen beneath folds of red silk, make no sound on the marble.

She crosses the hall to Jasper. All heads turn. 

She is at his side.

”Giselle,” he says. “You came.”

“Hush,” she says, arresting his single tear with a fingertip of her glove.

If you ever want to give it a whirl - here is the link - the e-book of long listers is only online for a week, then it is replaced by a fresh one for your reading pleasure.

Of course I have had the support and encouragement of the members of Writers Abroad - if you have never visited the site I invite you to do so.  From time to time I write the site blog and my next turn is May 30th and I am considering writing about my experience as a reader for the Annual Atlantic Writing Competition. I read the submissions for the poetry category and it certainly gave me an insight into the 'other side' of competitions. The responsibilty weighed quite heavily to begin with until I relaxed into it and enjoyed the wide range of work.

In other news, the black flies are out.  And here is a little song to help put you in the picture.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Prepping for National Novel Writing Month

Nano looms. It feels good - not like a black cloud loom, more like anticipation for a journey. Even having nanoed ten times before, I know this will be a new journey. Another pioneering experience. And I should at least do a little ‘packing’.
In preparation I’ve cleared the clutter, moved my desk and given it a bit of a polish. I now have a view of the woods behind the house and I know the view will change daily through November. If I am at a loss, I can always describe this view. Can't I? Of course I can, it's my novel, my nano after all.
What else do I have in readiness for this mental as well as physical trip? Not much. I have my protagonist. And I have an entry form for a beauty contest.  Is that enough to weave a tale? I wonder.

So just to make it feel more real I’ve built a cover.  ‘Woah,’ I hear you cry, ‘is that not putting the cart before the horse?’  Maybe, but at least it feels more real. I know I have to put something between the covers. A story. A tale. It’s motivating. It’s exciting.
Two weeks ago I received a lovely packet in the mail.  It came from Louise Penny’s publishers. It is a lovely black and white sketch map of Three Pines. The setting for Ms Penny’s Gamache novels. I had it beside me when I read her latest novel, The Nature of the Beast. Wowzer. Did it make a difference? Not to the quality of her writing, that is without doubt superb. Always. But it took me closer to that place. The setting. It became even more real.

I once (a very long time ago) did a workshop at The Cheltenham Literature Festival with Barbara Trapido. The workshop was called ‘Writing Your Life’ and one exercise the South African author suggested to the forty or so participants, was to draw a place. Somewhere from childhood. The results were startling. People said that the more they drew, the more they could remember. We then placed our young selves in these places with words. The results were astounding.
And so I am readyish. I know I need a great setting or even two. I am gung ho to sketch out a few maps for my nano novel this year. Somewhere for my characters to live, to go about their business, to fall in and out of love. Somewhere for my protagonist, Eva, to grow and deal with the years we will travel together .
I also need to research the history of beauty contests! Wish me luck.