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.
2016 Then I Kissed Her in Adverbially Challenged published by Chris Fielden.
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

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

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

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.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why do we doubt ourselves

photo credit V. Conrad

I was all set to write a blog about the benefits of reading our work in public (note the pic of me seriously reading Love on a Wednesday Afternoon, (you know, the one about the bouncy 4-poster bed, and the trombone lessons) from my Ad Hoc collection to an appreciative coffeehouse gathering recently.

But then this topic won’t go away:

Why do we doubt ourselves?

You made the resolution this year to just keep sending your writing out - and to keep track of what you’ve sent where and when to expect results. Many of these lit-mag-comps only tell you if you’ve been placed - so when results day arrives, you trawl the sites to read long lists, short lists, and finally the selected work. To find that you’re not there.

You swallow hard, tell yourself you can’t win them all - but you ‘tip-toe’ away from the websites thinking - ‘again - not good enough’ and it can leave you with a feeling of giving up, doing something completely different, stop banging your head against quite a high brick wall. Consider signing up for donkey rearing for beginners instead.

Because standards change. You want the standards to be high. You don’t want it, ever, to be a piece of cake. But you work so hard at the writing game and you begin to wonder if you are ‘edgy’ enough. If you should break more grammatical rules, chop your well constructed sentences into fragments, forget about well-place commas, and if you should write more about the current world problems. e.g. The annual Canada Reads CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) awards novel contenders this year needed to be books that ‘Canadians need to read now’ - in other words, novels that centre around current issues, immigration, the environment, world peace (or torment), politics, etc and so forth. A little dictatorial on the part of the CBC - in your honest opinion.

None are novels that you are desperate to read - for those reasons above. You can explore those issues via other means. Can’t you? For you, isn’t a novel a means for you to lose yourself, travel to another world? It is fiction. After all. (please note the chopped unstructured sentences here.)

So, you ask, is this the reason your work does not hit the mark right now? Are you too fictitious, or do you dwell too much in another era, when dialogue was different, when street talk was polite and grammatically correct?

You have, this past week, been in correspondence with a British TV producer regarding a shocking storyline on Coronation Street (always known for its quality writing.) You received a reply telling you that the drama uses ‘real life’ situations that people can relate to. You tell them that their writers should be fired for total lack of insensitivity and that cancer is no joke. The upset this story line caused btw was all over the UK tabloids that week.

Writing is a responsibility for sure; your dilemma is this - do you want to be published and to hell with the consequences? Or do you take your responsibility seriously?

Footnote - after writing this, your sweet little greyhound story was placed 3rd in the 100-word comp run by Morgen Bailey - so maybe, just maybe, all is not lost.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

In Print Yet Again

What a joy it is to hold a book, turn the pages, and find a piece of your own work.  That is how I felt last week when To Carry Her Home, the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology Volume 1 arrived.

Embedded deep within 144 other works of fiction is my 300-worder Tonight's the Night, and you can read about the issues concerning music lyrics and the need to 'edit them out' in my previous blog.

What amazes me the most is to read astounding work from authors of all ages from across the globe - and there sits my humble wee piece. I feel most honoured.

So thank you Bath Flash Fiction for the opportunity to sit among the big folks. And a big shout out to all other flash writers out there, for some reason you feel like family.

The links for purchasing the book can be found here:

You are in for a treat.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Forget Your Perfect Offering

YouTube link used for informative purposes only

I began this blog intending to lift the lid and take a peek at music lyrics and copyright issues in our writing. This first cropped up for me last year when I, in my innocence, used threads of lyrics from Carole King’s Will You Still Love Me in my short memoirish story, Tonight’s the Night, soon to be released (now minus the song lyrics) in an anthology by Bath Flash Fiction.

But you know me, I begin with one train of thought and then I start to wander, and wonder. So I wondered how other authors, well known authors especially, deal with the issue.

The author who comes immediately to mind is Louise Penny, successful crime writer of the Inspector Gamache novels. Her 9th novel in the Gamache series is titled: ‘How the Light Gets In.’ Such a familiar line from the Leonard Cohen song, Anthem.

Knowing that a few snatches of lyrics in my 300 word story would have cost in the region $500, I scratched my head and wondered how much it cost for Ms Penny’s publisher to obtain permission to use lines from the Cohen’s lyrics as her title and more lines from the song within the novel itself. Listen. Just like I did in 2013 - just 10 rows from the stage. The thought provoking and inspiring lyrics are provided with this YouTube clip:

(link used for informative purposes only)

It turns out our late dear clever poetic Mr. Cohen used lines from a very ancient Arabic poem for these lyrics (or so I understand) and, as the original words were written centuries ago Ms Penny probably didn’t need to get permission to use them (although I suspect her publisher did anyway.)

Thanks to Cohen, Penny and an Arabic poet, because of the lines: ‘forget your perfect offering, there is, there is, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’, my blog about copyright and music lyrics has gone its own way and turned into the topic of perfection in our writing - in fact perfection in all we do and why we think we need to strive for it.

So why don’t we forget about our perfect offerings, be true to ourselves, and let the light get in - for isn’t that what we really seek through our writing?

Music and lyrics will still follow me through my life and remind me of my times and experiences through the decades. But using them in my writing now has that extra level of challenge.

These might be useful links for you:

public domain listing

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Genre Game

I’ve been thinking a lot about genres of late. And those thoughts became very concentrated when, this week, I needed to choose a genre for my 2016 NaNo novel. And further crystalized when I found that mine was not in the drop down list, a list of 19 plus that little luxury - which I dared use - ‘other’.

I suspect there are many novels that get themselves whacked into the literary fiction or mainstream genre because they have nowhere else to go. And I also wonder what wonderful books get overlooked because they’ve been categorized in such a way.

But I digress, I really wanted to talk a little about my newly discovered genre, the one I suspect has been looking for me all my writing career, and that is the novella-in-flash - the genre that tripped me up when I entered the Bath Flash Fiction comp. earlier this year.

It is a startling genre. Nothing like a traditional novella which is described as, and I quote, ‘a work of written fictional narrative prose that is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel’. And startling in a way that each mini chapter is akin to a complete flash story. And you all know how I love writing flash fiction, how I have neither the patience nor staying power for a blockbuster novel, how I love to capture the essence of a story in as few words as possible, and how I am always in haste to ‘git ‘er done.’ Yes, in a flash - pardon the pun.

I have read (as recommended by Bath) a number of flash novellas now. And they have all startled me. I can think of no better word to describe them. They are unique, punchy, disorienting, curious, questioning, and oft times breathtaking in their delivery. The judge (Meg Pokrass) of the Bath Novella-in-Flash comp. describes them as ‘like stars in the sky.’ So yes, startling in its truest sense.

As NaNo approaches, I have completed the first steps of registering my novel as 3 Novellas (draft cover below), with the intention of submitting the results to the Bath Novella-in-Flash comp. - deadline end of December.


Whatever happens, my mouth is now watering with thoughts of where these works will take me. So NaNo - for my 10th time - I’m ready for you.

Read about Meg Pokrass here:

National Novel Writing Month, as always, is here: