Category Archives: Writing Projects

August Round Up

…but what happened to July?

It’s been a long while since I posted (June 19th, in fact), and for that, I apologise for being so lazy. Thing is, I didn’t really have any blog-able news, and I haven’t read anything particularly note-worthy (for shame!).

Some review news:

-Today, my review of Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (Carol Dyhouse) was published by LSE Review of Books. Check it out by following the ‘review’ link.

-Sept/Oct will be positively brimming with review work; I will be submitting two reviews to LSE, Feminist Activism, Women’s Rights, and Legal Reform (ed. Mulki Al-Sharmani), and A Feminist Voyage Through International Relations (Ann Tickner).

-I shall also be submitting a review of Gender, War and Conflict (Laura Sjoberg) to FWSA, after a long hiatus (unintentionally long I must add!).

Hopefully that should give me a kick-start into the new academic year, and I should feel some kind of enthusiasm regarding my MA dissertation.

In terms of fiction reading, I’ve found myself at a bit of a loss, if I’m honest. It’s quite possibly that all my sub-conscious really wants to read is Revival by Stephen King… (when it comes out in November…). Oh lordy…is there anything out there that can sate me for the time being?!

I am sure I’ll survive…right? RIGHT?!

Advertisements

Too many pies, not enough fingers…

Well, I went on holiday…and came back. As you do. I was a veritable reading champion and managed to make my way through no less than four books. Hurrah! I read the aforementioned In The Woods by Tana French, I Have Waited and You Have Come by Martine McDonagh; I also read The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King, and The Case of Mary Bell: a Portrait of a Child Who Murdered by Gitta Sereny. I was EXTREMELY naughty and read The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule BEFORE I went away. Self control=zilch. My holiday reads ran the gamut from fantasy, crime, post-apocalyptia (is that even a word..?), and true crime (though Sereny’s analysis of the Mary Bell case is far from sensational. It’s more a sensitive deconstruction of the nature of ‘evil’; an approach Sereny mastered in her biography of Albert Speer whom she met on many occasions).

Aside from reading, I’ve been pursing an altogether different past-time…indoor gardening! That’s right!

My little kitchen garden

My little kitchen garden

Seemingly unstoppable mint cutting...

Seemingly unstoppable mint cutting…

I planted a garlic clove and this is the result after a week

I planted a garlic clove and this is the result after a week

Scooping the guts out of aloe vera leaves...

Scooping the guts out of aloe vera leaves…

I find it all very relaxing. The results also speak for themselves. I am currently growing garlic (possible even in erratic UK climate…), basil, parsley, mint and lettuce. I also just planted some coriander seeds. Jamie Oliver I ain’t, but it’s fun and really easy. I am currently drinking a mint tea of my own making. I don’t even like mint tea but I have so much of the stuff I have to do something with it…I also made a face mask from some of my wilting aloe leaves. Even a fool of Took like me can manage to keep some plants alive. I am quite proud…

Other news:

-I have just finished a two-week unpaid work placement scheme in the Richard Burton Archive on the Swansea University campus. It was a fantastic introduction into the world of archives, and my placement partner and I produced some pieces of writing on our experience here and here. We also produced a web guide on a church in Swansea and how WW1 affected the lives of its congregation; information uncovered from primary sources such as logbooks.

-I am currently editing my next review for LSE Review of Books, The Brotherhood of Freemason Sisters: Gender, Secrecy, and Fraternity in Italian Masonic Lodges by Lilith Mahmud. It should be available for you to read online from the 19th of this month (June).

S’about it for now.

I’m currently reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, and Mr Mercedes by everyone’s favourite literary uncle, Stephen King.

I’m currently listening to The Handsome Family (thanks True Detective!), the Night Vale podcast (how I never discovered this before is a mystery to me…).

 

Look Who’s Back!

Yes, that’s right, me.

In October I took a little break for the sake of my sanity, and now I’m back, refreshed and raring to go.

I’ve been working, studying, and generally making a nuisance of myself. Occasionally I found the time to read some books and write some reviews.

Here they are (in case you can’t be bothered to scroll over to the relevant tab at the top of the page…):

-A conflict profile of the Nanking Massacre for the Women Under Siege Project

-A book review of The Tattooist by Louise Black for The F-Word 

-Two reviews for FWSA; Female Suicide Bombers by Rosemarie Skaine, and Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War? Perceptions, Problems in the Congo and Beyond by Maria Eriksson Baaz and Maria Stern.

-Two reviews for LSE Review of Books; The Killing Fields of Inequality by Goeran Therborn, and Voicing Demands: Feminist Activism in Transnational Contexts by Sohela Nazneen and Maheen Sultan (eds.) (UPCOMING!).

Really, I haven’t had much of a break at all but I very much enjoyed reading and writing about all the lovely books I’ve had the privilege of being sent. Writing for Women Under Siege was a great experience so thanks to Shazdeh and Lauren for accommodating my rookie academic ambitions.

So that’s it for the moment, folks. I will keep you updated on any new reviews or exciting news that may come my way.

Recent Shenanigans

New zine project:

Feeling inspired after the successful completion of my Stephen King fanzine, ‘Death Is When The Monsters Get You‘, I decided to embark on another zine making project; an as-of-yet unnamed literary zine.

There are no firm guidelines; there is no specific theme and contributors are welcome to submit pieces of fiction in any format they choose (short story, flash fiction, Twitter fiction, haiku, poetry, monologue, screenplay etc etc).

If you would like more details then please click here. The word count stated is just a guide; I’m willing to compromise!

Being interviewed by Radio Tircoed:

Cath Elms and I, founding members of Swansea Feminist Network, were invited to appear Radio Tircoed to chat about feminism on their Women’s Bits show.

We were pretty nervous about the whole thing, but all-in-all, it went very well!

The chat was an informal one and we were asked about the origins of Swansea Feminist Network, why we identified as feminists, our activism activities and campaigns and what the future held for our organisation.

I feel this whole broadcasting malarky is something that we, as an organisation, can really get into and it’s inspired us to start thinking about how we can use radio and podcasts as part of our activities.

Unfortunately, can’t link you to a podcast of the chat, as Radio Tircoed doesn’t currently offer them, but we’re hoping to get an MP3 sent to us, so keep you posted!

Cath and I with the presenter of Women’s Bits, Alison ‘Lenny’ Lenihan:

970726_10151538946138432_1619165029_n

 

Reviewing ‘Dirty Work’ by Gabriel Weston for The F-Word:

After responding to a call-out by The F-Word on Facebook, I have now joined their list of fiction reviewers! Books for free! Hurrah!

I am currently reviewing ‘Dirty Work’ by Gabriel Weston in audio-book format.

The synopsis is as such (from: Telegraph Author Interviews):

‘Dirty Work is about Nancy, a young registrar working in gynaecology and obstetrics, who is summoned before a panel to investigate why, at a crucial moment while performing an abortion, she completely froze and sat motionless while her patient almost bled to death.’

The novel broaches a very contentious and timely issue, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I am an hour in and I am really enjoying ‘Dirty Work’ so far. Weston’s descriptions of colour especially strike me as almost sumptuous.

I will post a link to the review when it’s done!

Swansea Feminist Network fundraiser: 

It’s that time of year again; the first of the bi-annual Swansea Feminist Network fundraisers!

Each year we hold two fundraisers in aid of Swansea Women’s Centre  (where I am also a trustee and volunteer); we ask local female-fronted musicians to perform for us and we sell our zines, vegan cakes and raffle off various goodies for an excellent cause.

Here is the Swansea Feminist Network committee in all our drunken glory:

I am in the white floral dress...

I am in the white floral dress…

We raised just under £300 for the Centre this time round and in November, we will be holding another event for the White Ribbon Campaign; a campaign ran by men to end violence against women.

Details of all our events and activities can be found on the SFN blog (link posted above somewhere…).

Books I have read recently:

Joyland by Stephen King.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill (my review here, some spoilers!)

Changes to review policy:

Well, I don’t really have a review policy as such but I have made a decision to try and limit the amount of spoilers I use in any given piece. I feel perhaps it detracts from the review itself, and might discourage readers from checking the books out; something I would feel pretty bad about.

I also am thinking of self-imposing a word-limit on my reviews as they tend to go off on existential ruminations; maybe this is something that readers don’t like? Short and snappy best? Lengthy good sometimes?

Some feedback would be appreciated!

 

Creative writing zine project-call for submissions!

So after the positive experience of creating and constructing my Stephen King fanzine, I have decided to undertake another zine project!

Buy me...

Buy me…

I was having a little think last night and I have decided to go a slightly different route…a literary zine of sorts.

I am looking for contributors willing to part with short stories, flash fiction, Twitter fiction, poems, haiku and artwork.

I would like this to be a diverse creative writing anthology which showcases our different voices.

Some stipulations:

-there is no theme so you can pretty much write about whatever you like 

-has to be fiction (or based on fiction in cases of artwork submission)

-can be written in English or Welsh (though I would appreciate if you sent me translation for administrative purposes!)

-short stories up to 1000 words

-flash fiction up to 500 words

-if you want pics to be a part of your piece of writing, send ’em over! Otherwise pics will be added at the editor’s discretion

-I can’t pay anyone but will send all contributors a free copy! 

Housekeeping:

-use of abusive and discriminatory language will not be tolerated

-racist, sexist, homophobic etc submissions will not be used

-I wouldn’t necessarily say no to erotic fiction but anything describing violent or degrading pornographic acts will not be considered

Get writing, folks!

Get writing, folks!

…so you’ve pretty much got a free reign!

It would fantastic if you would like to get involved.

Self-publishing is immensely satisfying and can be as low key/high brow as you want. I personally am a big fan of the DIY look.

I am big believer in, and supporter of, independent creative projects.

I think in a world where we can get easily disconnected from ‘real life’ by technology, it is a great feeling to hold something in your hands and think, ‘I’ve made that!’.

I haven’t thought of a name yet so I will keep you posted! Or email me any suggestions!

Contact me at: stephenkingfanzineATgmailDOTcom

Some zine resources:

Wikipedia

ZineWiki Portal

We Make Zines

Spill the Zines

Book bloggers rule, okay?!

A quick little update:

I’ve amended my ‘Stephen King and Feminism’ article for inclusion in the next issue of Pandora Press, lovingly hand-made and edited by the fantastic Cath Elms. You will be able to buy/read this in the next couple of weeks. I feel that the article now is a little more balanced and lot less rambling. It’s not a work of art by any stretch of the imagination (unless your standards are extremely low…) and there was some stuff I wanted to cut out completely because I felt it detracted something from my actual point.

Anyhow.

I was reading an article this morning about a Man Booker judge who said last year that book bloggers are ruining the art of literary criticism. I was annoyed by this on several different levels, as you can imagine.

-‘It is the job of Booker judges to identify books that are challenging and rewarding, rather than easy beach reads…’ …apparently.

Firstly, why should book reviews and literary criticism be restricted to just a privileged few?

Secondly, it’s really rather indicative of an attitude that I believe still exists in British society that somehow, working-class populations are responsible for the decline of some imaginary ‘standards’ regarding culture and tradition.

-“Books that are not immediately easy to read – the books that in the end will last, that reward you most – do increasingly require the Man Booker Prize judges to identify them so that people will find the pleasure and reward of reading them.”

Ah, so the great unwashed beach-readers like myself NEED the Man Booker judges to point us in the right direction! I will definitely seek their advice next time I go to a book store. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT PICKING UP THAT JAMES HERBERT! BACK AWAY FROM THE MAUVE BINCHYS! IT’S DOSTOEVSKY OR DEATH!

FYI, I read Dostoevsky as a yoof, and found it a little bit impenetrable. It was a poor translation into English but its more likely I didn’t enjoy it because I am really stupid…

KNOW YOUR PLACE seems to be the overwhelming messages from the Man Booker judges. HEY YOU! Don’t read that, read THIS! You’ll be more intelligent at the end of it, just like us!

I was thinking about reading Wolf Hall/Bringing Up The Bodies for a while, but the thing is, it just isn’t my cup of tea! And that’s okay. I am happy that lots of other people find this genre enjoyable and want to invest their hard-earned cash in this author (I use Hilary Mantel as an example purely because she won the Booker prize twice, which is an excellent achievement). Her recent speech for the London Review of Books on the media portrayal of royalty, I thought, was very astute and didn’t deserve the inevitable tabloid backlash it received.

Anyway, I digress. I think the ultimate onus here should be on the fact that people are reading more than ever; whether that be Hilary Mantel or E.L James. man-booker-prize-2012-the-agony-and-the-irrit-L-rE5OAA

Perhaps the Booker Prize judging panel should be made up of ordinary folk like you and me, then maybe we could get a more accurate picture of what different people like to read and ultimately, what they like to buy.

I think it’s time that literary critics came out of their ivory towers and engaged with the public on this issue. Maybe ‘beach readers’ read what they do because they spend the majority of their time working. After a 12 hour shift I don’t particularly want to come home and delve into a Goethe…

I think it’s great that the internet has revolutionised the way in which we can communicate with each other and express our opinions on different topics. Maybe that’s the problem. What was once the exclusive domain of the few is now open to everyone.

Most book bloggers like myself are unpaid (of course!) and write about the books they love/hate because they are passionate about reading. I don’t see anything wrong with that and I most definitely believe that this institutionalised snobbery is ridiculous.

 

My current Kindle Wish List:

Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Er ist wieder da (‘He’s Back’) by Timur Vermes

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

Game of Thrones Book 1 by George R.R. Martin

 

I’ll be placing some pre-orders on these lil’ babies soon as well:

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Joyland by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen King Fanzine: Call for Submissions

As you may have gathered, I like writing. I’m not going to pretend that I’m the internet’s next best thing, or a novelist-in-hiding, because I’m not. I’m an ordinary person, with a time-consuming and underpaid job and bills to pay. I’m not going to quit my job,  nor am I going to delude myself that writing is going to make me a lot of money, if any.

I would like my hobbies to be untainted by thoughts of money-making because that only leads to disappointment, as my foray into craft fairs has proved. I don’t think I can ever knit another uterus again without feeling a tang of bitterness…anyway!

My green uterus and I...

My green uterus and I…

I’m not some self-hating nihilist either, just so you know! Just realistic, innit.

I’ve embarked on a couple of writing projects in my time, some moderately successful, (successful in the sense that a couple of folk have taken the time to read my stuff), and some have been a little slow in making any kind of impact (e.g. Women of Swansea).

(I haven’t given up on Women of Swansea, FYI. I am planning a reboot of the project early next year so keep yer eyes peeled.)

I write regularly for SFN‘s Pandora Press zine (you can read #1 +2 online here) so I have decided to take the plunge and embark on a little zine-making adventure of my own.

So what do I feel passionate enough about to warrant making my own zine? Well, obviously I feel passionate about a lot of things: feminism, pugs, tattoos, baking, caring, knitting, reading, writing, horror, current affairs, my family, language…Stephen King…AHHHHAAA!

WUNDERBAR!

Stephen frickin’ King. My favourite author.

I am skint but zines are easy and relatively cheap to make. I have lots of friends and associates who like Stephen King and can contribute. I have friends who are expert zine-makers so I can nag them for advice. I like being creative. I like writing. I like writing things about Stephen King (see: ‘SK and Feminism’ on this fair blog). THIS CANNOT GO WRONG.

So dear readers, if you feel compelled to contribute anything to this strictly DIY project of mine, contact me at: stephenkingfanzine at gmail dot com for more information. I would like to get the zine finished by February 2013 so get your butts in gear and send something in. I can’t send out a free copy to everyone though, so you might have to chuck me a few quid via PayPal.

Some ideas:

-book/film adaptation review
-Top 5/Top 10 books/film adaptations
-favourite character/s and why
-favourite SK quotes
-flash fiction
-poetry
-artwork
-why do you like SK in under 100 words
-representation of women in his work
-use of language in his work
-bad/good film adaptations
-guilty pleasure?
-recommendations for first time readers
-opinion pieces on some aspect of SK’s work
The man himself. I obviously didn't take this picture, FYI.

The man himself. I obviously didn’t take this picture, FYI.

If no-one contributes then it’ll just be my own fan-girl splurge, and that’d be a bit boring, so you might as well take part too.
I hope it will be splendiferous.
I would just like to say that I am not some crazed stalker-type. I won’t be flying over the New England any time soon to pop a copy of the fanzine through King’s letterbox or lurk around in some bushes waiting for the bloke to go out for a pint of milk. I am sure he’s a very nice person but there’s going to be no Annie Wilkes action around here so don’t be crazy, either.
Hope to hear from you soon, King fans!