Monday, 16 January 2017

Our anthology writers

As promised we will be posting short biographies of the writers whose work has been selected to appear in Words And Women’s fourth anthology alongside our national winning story The Wife by Deborah Arnander and our regional winning piece Suite For My Father by Melissa Fu. If you want to find out more about Deborah and Melissa then please see our post dated 09/01/17.

More biographies will be posted next week. Congratulations to all of the following writers for their success.

Jamilah Ahmed grew up in the Middle East and is half Arab, half Irish. She has lived in London since graduating from University. She has a PhD from Goldsmiths, where her work examined the sociological language used to describe the female embodied self. Jamilah has worked in publishing as a Commissioning Editor in the social sciences and more recently as a freelance editor and literary agent. Her writing career began with an OU online creative writing course while on maternity leave. Following a mentorship with GoldDust, her work has been long-listed by Mslexia & WriteIdea. Her novel Recognising Strangers won the 2016 SI Leeds Literary Prize: Reader’s Choice Award. Jamilah’s non-fiction piece Leaving The Home That Made Me will feature in Words And Women: Four.

Kate Harmond Allan lives near Brighton with her husband Jay and two cats.
Kate has published poetry, short stories, plays and an academic series on the history of medicine.
She has participated in Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe festivals and more recently edited compilations of art and poetry.
Kate loves sunshine, red wine and Strictly!
Her short memoir Sunday Tea will feature in Words And Women: Four.  Kate was inspired to write it while living with her mother's dementia for the last five years, and realising the importance of preserving memories.

Margaret Callaghan is a writer and researcher living in Glasgow. She has been shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and Next Chapter Award as well as Flash 500 first novel award.  She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. Recently she worked with the Social Bite charity to write a recipe book to raise funds for the homeless and has a guide book on Barcelona coming out with Freight books in the Spring.  She is currently working on her first novel The List of Things to Do and Be. 
Margaret’s story Pull Of Distance will be published in the anthology.

Tricia Cresswell was born in January 1957 in Leeds and now lives with her husband near the beautiful Northumberland coast.  She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University.  Her professional background is in public health medicine; she has recently retired after 36 years working for the NHS and latterly Public Health England and carries values in relation to the fundamental principles of social justice and women’s reproductive rights into her prose writing.  More widely she is particularly interested in the concepts of place and time in fiction and the balance between internal consistency in relation to place and the creative bending of time.   She has a lifelong interest in both SF and historical fiction. Her current literary demigods are Iain (M) Banks, Hilary Mantel, Amitav Ghosh and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Tricia's story Future Perfect will be published in the anthology.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Deborah Arnander and Melissa Fu, the winners of our prose competition!

Congratulations to Deborah Arnander who has won our new national prize for women writers over 40 in our prose competition this year and Melissa Fu who has won our regional prize for women writers living and working in the East of England.  Deborah won for her fantastic story The Wife, and Melissa won with her elegiac non-fiction piece Suite For My Father.

Deborah Arnander
Deborah was born in Northumberland but spent her childhood in Thailand.  She has a PhD in French literature, and works as a translator.  She won an Escalator award in 2010, when she began her first, soon to be completed novel, The Cinderella Watch, which was shortlisted in 2014’s TLC/PEN Factor competition. She has published stories in Unthology One and Words and Women One and Three, all with Unthank Books, and poetry in the webzine Ink, Sweat and Tears.  She is married with two children. 

Melissa Fu
Melissa grew up in Northern New Mexico and lives in Cambridge. Her work appears in Words and Women:Two, Bare Fiction, Envoi, Right Hand Pointing, and other publications. With backgrounds in physics and English, she spent many years working in education, both as a teacher and a consultant. In 2014 Melissa combined her loves of writing and teaching to start Spilling The Ink, a small business offering creative writing courses and coaching. 

Deborah wins £1,000 and a month long writing retreat, generously sponsored by Hosking Houses Trust, and Melissa wins £600 and a mentoring session with Jill Dawson of Gold Dust.  Both will have their work published in our fourth anthology Words And Women: Four published by Unthank Books, which will be launched at our International Women’s Day celebration at the Nunns Yard Gallery in Norwich in March. (We will release more details about our celebration at the end of this month.) There are also 22 other writers whose scripts will be published in our anthology.

Our guest judge for this year was Naomi Wood, author of The Godless Boys and the bestseller Mrs. Hemingway. All entries were judged anonymously and the unveiling of the names of the winning writers at the end of the process was very exciting! ‘The chosen stories,’ says Naomi,  ‘are fresh and clever and dynamic.’

Over the next few days Words And Women will be posting photos and short biographies of all of our successful writers. Also Words And Women will be busily editing and shaping the anthology for publication. More news about this will be posted on our blog in due course.

Finally, Words And Women would like to say thank you to everybody who entered the competition. The quality of work, as always, was outstanding. 

The winning entries:



Jamilah Ahmed - Leaving The Home That Made Me –  Non-Fiction
Kate Harmond Allan - Sunday Tea – Memoir
Margaret Callaghan - Pull of Distance – Fiction
Tricia Cresswell - Future Perfect – Fiction
Louise Dumayne - The Bear – Non-Fiction
Kate Feld - Dear Shadow – Non-Fiction
Lilie Ferrari - Sorry Business – Fiction
Pia Ghosh-Roy – A Tree Full of Ghosts – Non-Fiction
Guinevere Glasfurd - The Last Card – Fiction
Sara Gowen - Wedad – Non-Fiction
Anna Metcalfe - A Punch Up At The Wedding – Fiction
Clare Morgan - Thiruvega – Fiction
Helen Morris - There’s a Wee Bomb Upstairs – Fiction
Shiona Morton - The Boy in The Bivouac – Fiction
Nasrin Parvaz - The Time of Assassinations – Fiction
Marianne Picton - Memory Thief – Fiction
Ronne Randall - The Talent Show – Non-Fiction
Kate Robinson - Me & My Reptile on a Concrete Reef – Non-Fiction
Cherise Saywell - Private Parts – Fiction
Victoria Shropshire - Beauregard’s Last Walk – Fiction
Penny Simpson - Winter’s Map – Fiction
Mary White – Some Adjustment Required - Fiction

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Our prose competition long-list

Naomi Wood
Happy New Year to all our supporters. We open this year with news of our prose competition. Naomi Wood, author of The Godless Boys and the bestseller Mrs. Hemingway and our guest judge, met with us today to discuss the long-list and decide which out of all these scripts are our worthy national and regional winners and which our 20 highly-commended. It was a very interesting, frank and lively discussion but finally there was consensus! All entries were judged anonymously and so it was an exciting moment when we could uncover the names.
On Monday 9th January we will announce the winner of our new national prize of £1,000 and a month long writing retreat, generously sponsored by Hosking Houses Trust, and the winner of our East of England prize of £600 and a mentoring session with Jill Dawson of Gold Dust.  We will also announce the names of the highly-commended who will be included in our anthology Words and Women: Four, published in partnership with Unthank Books. Meanwhile we thought we’d continue our tradition of publishing our long-list of 40 here on this blog. Congratulations to all of you who made it to this stage!
And very many thanks to all of you who entered. We had 350 entries in total from all over the UK and Ireland, from Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, Bristol, Canterbury, Norwich, Cambridge and many other cities, towns and villages. There was a good strong mix of fiction and non, many interesting essays and strong memoir pieces. Themes explored were as varied, ranging from bear-hunting to dating, immigration to flying, from OCD to embroidery, from terrorism to bereavement, from plastic surgery to nightmare futures. The work which made its way onto our long-list successfully explores the unusual or the familiar in an unfamiliar way. We were drawn to tight, stylish sentences. We liked neat structures and experimental structures. Mostly we chose work which displays confidence and energy, commitment and a real understanding of form.

Our long-list:
Far From Home – Ann Abineri
Leaving The Home That Made me – Jamilah Ahmed
Sunday Tea – Kate Harmond Allan
The Wife – Deborah Arnander
Schokolade – Sarah Bower
Nan & Agatha – Alison Burnside
Pull of Distance – Margaret Callaghan
Pandora – Carole Craig
Future Perfect – Tricia Cresswell
Glory Be – Sara Crowley
A Roll of The Dice – Mona Dash
The Bear – Louise Dumayne
Dear Shadow – Kate Feld
Sorry Business – Lilie Ferrari
Suite for my Father – Melissa Fu
A Tree Full of Ghosts – Pia Ghosh-Roy
The Last Card – Guinevere Glasfurd
Red Sails – Tara Gould
Wedad – Sarah Gowen
Weightlessness  - Sarah Isaac
Thin Air – Ingrid Jendrzejewski
Babies – Sarah Mackey
Rag and Bone – Catherine Menon
A Punch Up At The Wedding – Anna Metcalfe
Thiruvega – Clare Morgan
There’s a Wee Bomb Upstairs – Helen Morris
The Boy in The Bivouac – Shiona Morton
Dungeness – Lucy Nabijou
The Time of Assassinations – Nasrin Parvaz
Memory Thief – Marianne Picton
Catsick – Sarah Poulton
The Talent Show – Ronne Randall
It’s Not Unusual – Elvire Roberts
Me & My Reptile on a Concrete Reef – Kate Robinson
Private Parts – Cherise Saywell
Beauregard’s Last Walk – Victoria Shropshire
Winter’s Map – Penny Simpson
Lives of The Saints – Ann Kennedy Smith
Some Adjustment Required – Mary White

Two Kinds of Something – Sarah Wickes

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Book East - Brilliant Books by Brilliant Women

The Print Museum
There’s a whole other language for the foundling industry of letterpress, and in the heyday of making an imprint on a page, that language informed us in the most transformative and progressive way.  It ran deep, the revolution.  Now, the physical act of making pages has gone, and with it a profoundly human as well as an industrial history.  And passion, print is a quiet passion – and that is what emerges through Heidi Williamson’s collection of poems, The Print Museum published by Bloodaxe Books.
This is a book of love from a deft and disciplined poet at the height of her powers, a worthy winner of the East Anglian Book Awards. Williamson’s beautiful, tender journey through the thins and leads of print is a journey with her father, a retired printer, and the result of her three-year residency at the John Jarrold Printing Museum, in Norwich. It tells history like a string of beads, industrial, personal, familial, universal and human and memory like a glaze, a sieve, a mirror.
The span (another printing term), of Williamson’s writing is deceptive.  We can be in a small space with a crowd of letters but inked through is an entire history, or an idea, which is so simple but so right and so well put, it is perfect.  I can get ridiculously excited about the conjunction of words – boring everyone I know by repeating the brilliant simplicity of Shakespeare’s ‘the hollow crown,’ a complete embodiment of kingship when death and betrayal was easy – but Williamson does this too.  She is questioning, philosophical, existential, gently mischievous, tender, experimental, sensuous, and so, so smart.
‘They say the weight of a full Kindle/is as slight as the weight of a man’s soul,
That the substance of a Tweet/decays in just three hours:/Do words weigh less in cyberspace? (Furniture)…
There are fantastic first lines:
‘He tended that machine like his own sorrow.’
‘My mother had two mouths./ One was for saying./The other was for not saying.’
I can’t recommend this collection more highly.  It will enhance your reading life.

The Print Museum, Heidi Williamson, Bloodaxe Books, 2016

Bird Sisters by Julia Webb is a quest to understand the tangle of family and especially the river of a relationship that runs between siblings.  This is a brave book, a tense, personal evocation of life in a family overshadowed by the rule of a ‘Sun Father’, and his punitive severity blighting the lives of the children – and the shadowy orbit of ‘Moon Mother.’ Webb conjures childhood memories into enchanted, surreal motifs that fuse with the authentic detail of the everyday.  We are carried through the universe, only to land in a snatched sexual encounter outside the chicken abattoir, which twists into a mythical transformation.
To me, as a reader, I found the prose poems, the accounts of things that happened at home, compelling, like The Piano Lesson – (refused by Daddy), Lent and Rain.  This is a world of slights, longings and cruelties, darkness and difficulty, spiky, complex relationships, and acts, however small, of a rebellion and resilience.  There are wonderful images, ‘Her mother darns the window.’  - ‘Like a baby dandled on the knee of the sea.’ And lines that completely twine the natural world, the local, regional, recognizable world into the being of the characters that populate this collection – ‘you send your snaggle fingers down/into Breckland’s thin soil/snare rabbits in the net of your tresses.’ (From the Same Cloth).
This is an intriguing book, myth and miasma, real and sobering, as if the writer is still puzzling it all out.  A great read.

Bird Sisters, Julia Webb, Nine Arches Press, 2016.

Reviews by Belona Greenwood, founder and co-organiser of Words and Women. A former journalist she took an MA in Scriptwriting at the University of East Anglia and writes plays for adults and children, produced and performed both regionally and nationally.  She is co-director of Chalk Circle Theatre Company.  In 2009 she was a winner of the Decibel Penguin Prize for Life Writing, and she has won an Escalator award to write a book of creative non-fiction. She teaches adults and children.