Writing Update: Two Months Of Forgetting To Blog

I’m terrible at blogging. Really, really terrible.

This morning when I checked the date on my last proper ‘blog”, (we exclude poems for the sake of clarity), I realised two months had somehow flown past me. We’re now creeping into Autumn, the heatwaves are showing signs of dissipating, and the dryer is in use because business as usual has resumed regarding English weather and rain.

The results for the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge arrived and ‘Once Upon A Time There Was A Quest’ ranked 13th in its group. The groups normally have around 35 individuals in them, and 13th place earns two points towards moving forward into the second round. For the second round of challenge one (I hope you’re keeping up with this) I was tasked with writing a romantic comedy, set on a hot air balloon, including an alarm clock. Attempting to follow the feedback from the judges on my first story, I tried to keep my flash to just two characters, and minimal scene breaks. I say minimal, there are still two scene changes but not quite as dramatic as the ones in ‘Once Upon A Time There Was A Quest’.

At the end of June, ‘Stone Tongue’ was winged off to Fawn Press for consideration. It made it through to the last round of consideration but didn’t quite make the final cut. I did receive some handy feedback on the manuscript, and the rejection has allowed me to keep adding poems. Monday evening I fell down a rabbit hole researching female papermakers in Shropshire. I was looking for more information on the Oswestry House of Industry, but ended up with a gravestone of a woman who made ‘brown paper’. So not only do I now have a half-edited poem on the use of the scold’s bridle in Oswestry’s House of Industry, I’ve got the seeds of another poem about Shropshire women who worked in paper mills.

The rejection from Fawn Press was possibly the nicest rejection I’ve ever received, and there was an offer to resubmit next year if the collection hasn’t found a home. If you are looking for a small UK poetry press to support then I suggest going and checking them out as they produce beautiful books of stunning poetry. The effort that goes into the work they produce is something to behold, and Scarlett Ward Bennet (who runs the press) is a fantastic poet herself, as well as a genuinely lovely person.

In positive news, three poems included in my manuscript have been accepted for publication in the December issue of Dreich. Cue excited squealing, and dancing around the dining room. As Dreich is a physical poetry publication, a contributor’s copy will arrive on my doorstep at some point. Who knows where I’m going to fit it, my poetry shelf is bursting at the seams. I might just have to carry it around with me at all times or sleep with it under my pillow.

Speaking of published works! Sales for ‘It’s All In The Blood’ are up 300% from last month. I’m a self-published poet who does her own marketing, so 300% means I sold 0 books in July, and I’ve sold 3 so far in August. In-person readings and social media appear to be the way to go with selling poetry, but both require time and a bit of networking. I also have to be careful about which poems I’m reading at events because putting the recordings online can count as publication in the eyes of some journals.

I do have a few ‘big’ things lined up for this year and next. I’m the featured poet for ‘Poems and Pints’ at the Button Warehouse in Macclesfield (2nd November 2022), I’m going on the ‘What The Book’ podcast in January, and I’m helping to run in-person events in my home town of Whitchurch. In between, I’m trying to wrangle my way into as many open mic slots as I can with some possible Manchester ventures in the near future. After growing up in the cosy poetry communities of Shrewsbury, and Crewe, I’m a little nervous at the prospect of attending an open mic where I literally don’t know anyone else in the room. I simply have to remember that I’m a grownup, and pretending that new social situations aren’t utterly terrifying is a part of life.

For those of you reading this, feel free to leave your poetry event suggestions in the comments, and if you’ve liked the poems scattered about the post then please consider purchasing a copy of my collection. It’s available in most territories through Amazon. Now I’m off to write some more of my novel, redraft a couple of poems, and schedule some tweets so it looks like I’m more organised than I really am. Until next time. Happy writing.

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