A Guide to Indie Presses 2016/17

My experience with the Indie press has served me well: a novel, my first, from Flambard (sadly now no longer) a collection of short stories from Iron Press and this year a new novel, Sometimes A River Song,  published by the terrific Indie, Linen Press.

If you haven’t heard of them before you have now –  ‘Linen Press is a small, independent publisher run by women, for women. Our policy is to encourage and promote women writers and to give voice to a wide range of perspectives and themes that are relevant to women.’

As writers increasingly turn to the small presses in the hope of publication, Mslexia have produced what looks like an invaluable guide to Indie Presses 2016/17

‘Indie Presses 2016/17 is a comprehensive catalogue of more than 400 independent literary presses operating right now in the UK and the Republic of MslexiaIreland. Compiled by the team at Mslexia, it’s a vital resource for all writers, men and women alike.

If you’re wondering where to submit your poems or short fiction, if you’ve completed a pamphlet or full-length collection, or a novel, biography or memoir that you’d like to see published, this guide gives you all the information you need.’

What’s inside?

A comprehensive catalogue of more than 400 independent literary presses operating right now in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Indie Presses 2016/17 provides details of around 200 literary magazines and 250 small independent book publishers (some magazine publishers also produce books).




A Love Affair with France

Francophile that I am, I’m delighted to welcome author of Paris Mon Amour and host of, On The Literary Sofa, Isabel Costello to the blog.

Here’s Isabel  talking about her lifelong love affair with with France, followed by my review of her debut novel Paris Mon Amour ~ isabel-costello-headshot

Since the publication of my debut novel Paris Mon Amour, I am often asked about my love of France and the French language.  It’s a long story that began years before I was born, and it has many chapters.

In 1950, my mother was a 16-year-old schoolgirl, the eldest of six (later seven) children from a working class family. To encourage her gift for languages, the nuns at her convent school used their connections to arrange for her to stay with a family in France who had a daughter of the same age. That girl became my mum’s friend for life, and in due course, my godmother – I am named after her.  Isabelle’s two daughters are my oldest friends and the bond between our families – now spanning three generations – set the course of my mother’s future and mine.

In many ways, I am something of a hybrid.  My upbringing held no social or financial advantages but it provided me with something far more precious: education and opportunities which extended my horizons.  My mum became a French teacher after studying at Bristol and the Sorbonne and as my dad was a self-employed lorry driver we were able to take off to France every summer. Continue reading

Open Submission – Dead Ink

This seems really important –

Dead Ink have decided to ‘open submissions for EXILE, a series of subscription eBooks,  seeking to explore how we attach ourselves to land, how we form, or lose, a sense of belonging. How culture and identity relate to geography and cartography. And, perhaps most importantly, how we ourselves shape and form something invisible and intangible.

We want stories between 5,000 and 30,000 words in length. Short-to-long stories. Authors will be paid with a set net percentage royalty. We may also anthologise the series as a print book in the future and produce an audio series. These submissions are also open to poetry, for which there is no lower word-limit.’

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of vast public events, especially if we didn’t support them, as the majority of the UK population (‘remain’ voters + abstainers) did not. My question is one that I’ve been asked several times since Friday: what can writing do in the face of this situation? Joanna Walsh in 3: AM


DONT MISSTomorrow – on Bastille Day, Isabel Costello, author of Paris Mon Amour will be my guest here – talking about her love affair with France

Travel Writing Competition

For me there is nothing like travel to a new place to inspire new writing. I understand well the desire to travel and write. So for all the travel writers out there, here’s a great competition from, I Must Be Off travel blog. The deadline is July 31st.

‘We want to read about that place that changed you.We want to read about the experiences you can’t wait to share with other travelers. Whether your work is humorous, informative, quirky or profound–we want to read it.’

  • Maximum 1200 words
  • Edited to the best of your ability for spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • Up to three photos may be submitted with your entry. Photos not necessary to win.
  • Previously unpublished work only! Blog posts are considered published (and I research all finalists).
  • No entry fee. Yes, that’s right. You have nothing to lose.
  • Finalists announced in August 2016. Winners announced and published in late summer 2016.


‘A well-grounded sense of place is the challenge for the writer. We observe, we calculate, we inquire, we look for a link between what we already know and what we’re about to learn. The finest travel writing describes what’s going on when nobody’s looking.’― Tom Miller

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The Great British Write Off

You don’t have to be a cook to enter this competition –  The Great British Write Off was launched in 2014 to give poets and writers the chance to win the prize fund, which increases by 50p every time an entry is submitted. Guest judges decide on the winner, who wins the prize fund, as well as the 2nd and 3rd place winners.

There is no theme and poems, novel extracts, short stories, prose and mini sagas are welcome. You can find more here


Writing Through Pain, Brexit Be Damned

I’ve got a confession to make. In the past when writers have told me that they can’t write because they are ill or just in too much pain, I haven’t always been as sympathetic as I might. I’ve sometimes (though not always) been guilty of secretly thinking I couldn’t let that stop me, or they’re just not trying hard enough. Well I won’t be thinking that quite so much in the future. I’ve been unwell now for some weeks and in a lot of pain with my back. I’ve found it impossible to write, barely possible to think. I’ve spent a huge chunk of my days binge watching on Netflix – I am currently on series 3 of The Good Wife (recommended). Here ends my confession. There are times when life gets in the way of writing and this is one of those times for me.

garden 1

I’m concentrating on trying to get better, on relaxing, on meditation for coping with pain, on ordering my days just to suit me. One scary thing I’ve learned is that doctors are willing to prescribe medication with serious consequences without any discussion with their patient. I’ve been horrified by this. Thankfully I have an alternative, in the shape of a dedicated and respectful osteopath who I’m sure is beginning to help me.

It’s been a strange summer so far, often damp and depressing and consumed by Brexit and it’s awful aftermath. I think maybe my back came out in sympathy. But good things are never far from reach. My garden for one. It’s given me great solace, and although I can’t really work in it, my partner, J has been looking after it beautifully.

So now, Brexit be damned, I am fully intending to celebrate Bastille Day, July 14 th here on the blog with a guest post by the wonderful Isabel Costello. Isabel will be talking about her love affair with France and I will be reviewing her debut novel Paris Mon Amour. Don’t miss it!

And if like me your pining for a taste of France – then take  a look at Lifetwicetasted’s beautiful Postcards from Marseillan

Poetry – something ordinary and rare?

It’s been a while since I posted, partly due to a disc in my back which insists on playing up. But I couldn’t resist sharing this latest review of Sometimes A River Song from poet  Gillian Allnutt – whose words feel to me like a precious gift.

Listen to Aiyana. Let her voice take hold of you, hypnotic and insistent as the river, as ‘the lull and rock of moving water’. Let her telling take you to the end of this, her own unanswerable story – unanswerable as truth is and as full of event as the river is ‘full of catfish and bream, turtle and gar’.

            She’ll make you think, without trying to, about the way we treat the earth; about what’s wrong with it. She’ll make you think again as from the heart. She’ll make you think, perhaps, that poetry is something ordinary and rare as grandma ‘singing to the corn while she hoe’.

            Listen to her.


Sometimes A River Song – Trailer

This is the trailer for my novel, Sometimes A River Song. It’s not easy capturing a book in so few words – but I think Linen Press have done a great job. Let me know what you think?

If you’d like to read the reviews so far you can find them HERE

You can buy your copy HERE for just £7.99

On kindle HERE for £4.74

Sometimes A River Song, Now Available

Great News! Happy Days! Sometimes A River Song, is NOW available in paperback from Linen Press HERE

On Amazon Kindle HERE


‘… one of the most moving books I’ve read in a long time.  The narrative itself is song-like in the way the prose moves.  It reminded me initially of Eimear McBride’s ‘A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing’, mainly because the narrative voice of the girl is so distinctive and haunting…definitely her best.’ Kathleen Jones (Read more here)