Mansfield Library, March 3rd

Members of the public are invited to a book exhibition at MANSFIELD LIBRARY on the 3rd of MARCH.

Mansfield Woodhouse author Essenne Fleet has recently published a fantasy novel entitled The Firefox of Anyëa. The exhibition - which runs all day from 10am - is about the book.

The novel is the first in a series called The Soulfire Saga of Tabitha Moon.
For more details on the book visit tabithamoon.com

You can also follow the author on Facebook by searching for Essenne Fleet or on Twitter @EssenneFleet.


In Aid of Dyslexia

This April, I am taking on the massive challenge of running the Virgin London Marathon in aid of Dyslexia Action.   I have never taken on anything quite as mammoth as this before but when Dyslexia Action asked me if I would run for them I found it impossible to say no, given how the cause is so very dear to my heart.  I wonder if you could take five minutes out of your day to quickly read the reasons why I decided to say yes.   Fundraising is never easy but with the internet and the amazing Just Giving pages you can set up now-a-days it’s becoming easier.  
Any donation would be hugely appreciated.
Firstly let me tell you a little bit about Dyslexia Action and the reason why I wholeheartedly support what they do.  Dyslexia Action is the biggest dyslexia charity in the UK and they provide a wide range of services to people of all ages who have dyslexia and struggle with literacy.  There is somewhere between four and five percent of the population who live with dyslexia and it is estimated that there are about 375,000 pupils in the UK with dyslexia and a total of some two million people who are severely affected.

When I was at school, in the later years of juniors, I became aware that I was slightly different from the other children.  I had a real sense of being an outsider.  I had difficulty with math’s concepts, problems understanding the rules of grammar and mastering spelling was hopeless.  I reversed letters and numbers and took much longer to think and respond to questions.  I was a very slow reader back then and the thought of having to read aloud in class petrified me.  I spent most days daydreaming at the back of the room, doodling and drawing.  Unlike our education system today, my silence in class did not arouse suspicion in the teacher that something was amiss.  However, she found my lack of concentration and progression galling to the point where every morning I was called to the front of the class and told to repeat ‘Claire is stupid’ to my fellow classmates, a humiliation that has haunted me for a lifetime.  Justifiably I had massive problems with my self-esteem and a great sense of underachievement and after time, I really did indeed believe I was ‘stupid’.  This manner went on for some months and it wasn’t until my mother turned up at class one day and witnessed what I was forced to do that my life turned around.  I never knew why my mother turned up that day, maybe I had a dentist appointment or maybe it was a mother’s intuition that something wasn’t right.  Whichever it was, my parents whipped me from that school so fast my feet didn’t touch the ground. 

I was lucky… but I was also, by then, accustomed to disguising myself and my learning differences, which is typical.  It is exhausting being insecure, back then my only pleasure was role-playing, singing, dancing and being someone else. I had always dreamed of being a writer, but no one could understand a word I wrote. So what was the point in striving for something that could never happen?   I wasn’t aware of how dyslexia assessments on children worked, but my mother being a teacher herself, knew something was not right and she had me tested and it was confirmed… I was dyslexic. 

Some people with dyslexia are able to disguise their weaknesses, compensating and often do acceptably well or better - but there comes a time in higher education when a threshold is encountered, where they are no longer able to compensate for their learning differences.  I’m reluctant to use the word ‘weakness’ because although back then it felt like a weakness I’ve later learnt it most certainly isn’t.  Dyslexic people simply learn differently, we are active and visual thinkers, who learn best by hands on rather than lecturing.  Along with the endless list of things dyslexic people struggle to do, dyslexia is not an intellectual disability; we have many natural strengths that could even be construed as unique traits.  Yes we get bored easily; we’re inattentive and seek stimulation, preferring unstructured situations with lots of freedom.  But we are aware of everything; we are highly perceptive and intuitive.  We are curious risk-takers, capable of doing multiple things at the same time.  As I’ve already said we’re highly creative and artistic with vivid imaginations.  We have drive and ambition – we think in pictures instead of words and are capable of seeing things differently from others – outside the box if you like.

I know exactly what if feels like to be told, ‘You’re different.  You have to go to a special school.’ It broke my heart, I was embarrassed, ashamed and I never believed in a billion years I would stand and tell assemblies of teenagers about it, write blogs about it or even run a marathon in aid of helping people who live with it.  My confidence has come a long way and I will do everything in my power to help and encourage others with dyslexia.
I spent my final two years of junior school under the wing of a phenomenal teacher, who gradually drew out the creativity in me and gave me back my confidence.   Now my coping strategies are in place I almost feel I have ruled out my dyslexia.  I am still a slow reader and I occasionally have to re-read sentences to make sense out of them but I love, and always have done, the art of storytelling, whether it’s through music, film, theatre or books. You can carry away so much from a good book and live several lives whilst reading it, as I hope the readers of my debut novel DEAD GAME will.  Yes, I have written a book and I have three beautiful children to teach and inspire.  Literacy is so important, it is a great way of communicating and a socially acceptable way of expressing yourself, it is an essential tool that every person should possess.

I was so afraid of being judged when I was younger but now I just think; surely if life had wanted me to think ‘by the book’ I would have been made otherwise. The bullying I experienced at school has made me far more determined to help others living with dyslexia and help them to be who they are and not shy away or be demoralised.  Remember two or three children in every classroom struggle to learn to read and write. Many will progress well with good phonics (sound based) teaching but for those with more severe needs it is essential that they have access to specialist teaching. Currently many of these children do not get the help they need due to lack of trained specialist staff and their difficulties can go unnoticed or unexplained.  Without the correct identification and support dyslexia can be a barrier to learning and can lead to failure at school, exclusion or anti-social behavior. For many children who struggle to learn, their behavior and confidence can be badly affected.  If you can’t learn to read, you can’t read to learn!

By sponsoring me to run the Virgin London Marathon and donating to Dyslexia Action you will be helping so many people, children and adults, who live with dyslexia, they will receive assessments or screening tests, free face to face advice from experts and tuition and support through individual teaching programmes.

We need to change the face of how dyslexia is viewed and how it is remedied. I endeavor now to take away any shame behind the word dyslexia and swap it for pride.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate - I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Even if you can only donate £1 – every little helps.  Thank you so SO much.

Link to give.
With all my love,

PS If you would like a really good laugh – take a look at what the Marathon News is saying about me!


Short Story Workshops

NWUK member Fiona Linday is delivering a series of 10 short story workshops at Embrace Arts, Leicester, taking place after Easter at Leicester University’s Arts Centre.

These workshops, called Every Word Counts, will be on Wednesdays at 10.20am-12.30pm, starting on May the 2nd and running until July the 11th
Note: No session on the 23rd of May.

Learn how to write your own great short story, using writing toolkits to practise exercises, and improve your craft.

The course is open to all.



Buxton Poetry Competition 2012 is Now Open! 
Closing date: 6th April 2012
Download an entry pack from here.   
or call 01298 70395


A copy of the entry form and handy hints sheet can be downloaded from here. 
Closing Date:  1st April 2012


The 2012 competition is now open. Entries will be judged by poets Sinéad Morrissey, Patrick McGuinness and filter judge Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch.
Visit their website for further details. 
Closing date: 2nd March 2012


Mslexia 2012 Women’s Short Story Competition is for previously unpublished stories of up to 2,200 words by women writers.
Judged by Tessa Hadley
1st Prize: £2,000 plus a week’s writing retreat at Chawton House Library* and a day with a Virago editor**
2nd Prize: £500 3rd Prize: £250
Three other finalists win £100 each.
All winning stories will be published in issue 54 of Mslexia, published in June 2012.
CLOSING DATE: 19 March 2012
Entry fee: £10 per story. Professional critiquing service £45 per story (www.mslexia.co.uk/critiquing).
The CHL retreat is accommodation only, dates to be agreed between CHL and the competition winner. ** The day with a Virago editor must be taken at a time that is suitable to both Virago and the competition winner.The winner is responsible for any other expenses involved with attending the CHL retreat and the day with a Virago editor, i.e travel, food, etc. The prizes are optional additions to the £2,000 first prize. The prizes must be taken by 31 May 2013.
Contact 0191 233 3860
Email   shortstory@mslexia.co.uk


£1000 first prize Open to UK & International entries up to 2500 words £10 entry fee
£1000 First Prize plus publication in Anthology for all winners and fifteen
Open to UK and International entries
Up to 2500 words £10 entry fee
Closing date: 30th April 2012
Contact: 0115 912 0494


Pop a poem on a Postcard poetry competition
Deadline – July 31st 2012
PRIZES:- 1st £100 2nd £50 3rd £25 (All 3 prizewinners will have 10 postcards with their winning poem printed on them)
Entry fee – £3 per poem
Email – thynkspublications@yahoo.co.uk


Deadline: Mon 27 Feb 2012
To mark the 2012 Olympics, for one year only, the Award becomes the BBC International Short Story Award.
Booktrust and the BBC’s annual showcase of outstanding short fiction launches today with an expanded worldwide quest to find the best international short story of 2012 to mark the Olympic year. The judging panel for the one-off BBC International Short Story Award will be chaired by broadcaster and comedy writer Clive Anderson and the winner announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.
For the first time since it launched in 2006, the BBC Short Story Award will see stories from home and abroad going head-to-head for the £15,000 cheque for first place. For one year only authors from across the globe will be eligible to enter alongside UK practitioners.
To reflect the global breadth of the Award in 2012 the shortlist will comprise ten short stories rather than the usual five. Each of the ten shortlisted stories will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 over two weeks, showcasing the scope and diversity of the form in the run-up to the winner announcement.
The shortlist will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, and the ten shortlisted entries broadcast during the following two weeks. The winner and runner-up will then be revealed at a special event which will also go out live on Front Row. The shortlisted stories will be published in a special anthology and be available for free audio download. Scottish Book Trust will be running four in-depth short story workshops in Edinburgh during the festival season to run alongside the Award.
The Award – one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000 – is now open for submissions from publishers, agents and authors from anywhere in the world who have been published in the UK.


There are three cash prizes & the winning book will be read by a top London Literary Agent
First prize is £800.
They are now accepting submissions. The closing date is 31st March 2012.
All independently published and self published books are eligible. All genres welcome.
There are four high profile judges: Alan Mahar, publishing director; poet/novelist Jeff Phelps; children’s authors Simon Cheshire; and Pauline Morgan, well respected critic and writer.
Entries must be postmarked no later than 31st March 2012. The entry form can be downloaded from their website.
The entry fee is £35 (other currencies are accepted on their website).
About Rubery Book Award:
It is increasingly difficult to get the publishing world to take notice of independently published books and self publishers. Book awards tend to be geared towards big publishing houses where large sums of money are expected once a book is shortlisted. The International Rubery Book Award is creating an opportunity for independent publishers and self published books by rewarding them for their quality. Once established we believe that RBA will gain recognition for finding quality books published in this way. This would mean winners, past and present, can proudly announce that they are award-winning authors of our prize and be confident that this title will be respected.
They will also be running a short story competition for unpublished short stories in 2012.


Closing date: Midnight (GMT) Wednesday 27th June 2012.

Prizes: First £60, Second £30, Third £15,
and a donation to a UK charity or voluntary group.

Entry fee: £3.00 for one entry or £5.00 for two. £2.50 for each additional entry.

The competition is open to all ages. Submissions may be up to 1,500 words. Winning entrants will receive the cash prizes and can choose to have their work published on the website. With every entry there is the choice to nominate a UK charity or voluntary group for a donation, currently at £25 and likely to increase provided we have a good response in entries.

Entries may be submitted by email, or by post. Payment to be posted. For full details please visit their website

If you would like a copy of the terms and conditions, and entry form, or if you have any questions about the competition, please contact Debbie at erewashwriterscomps@hotmail.co.uk