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A DIY snowflake, new opportunities for a new year, and inspiring creative chaos from your little literary chum.

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Hello there,

And welcome to Little Ms.

This is a stub version of our full-length email supplement. The full monty – complete with jobs, competition deadlines, creativity prompts, news and nonsense – is available free to subscribers of Mslexia magazine. So if you like what you see, there’s lots more in store if you decide to come on board.

Sign up now and catch the December 2017 issue, with forward-looking features from Sarah Perry on accepting her status as a gothic writer, as YA author Laura Steven explores the effect of YA fiction on young readers’ political opinions. Karon Alderman explains why she carries on writing in the face of rejection, while Sita Brand looks at the relationship between mindfulness and creativity.

In our writing too, instead of lamenting what we didn’t achieve in 2017, we’re looking at what we actually managed, however small, against the odds – and riding that wave into the New Year. While our 2018 Writers Diaries are now fully sold out – and congratulations if you got your hands on one of the last few copies – you can still equip yourself for a creative year ahead with a copy of our updated Indie Press Guide. Why not make this the year you submit your work to the UK’s top independent publishers?

Team M

COMING SOON

Sadly, the deadline for our popular ‘bewitched’ theme has now come and gone, but we’re now excitedly inviting poetry, prose and script submissions on the theme of ‘weather’ for the June issue. Keep checking our submissions page for new publishing opportunities on Mslexia Max too.

And, and, and – a special treat for everyone RIGHT NOW.  2018 is the 20th anniversary of the Vagina Monologues publication, and the jolly cherubs at Virago have donated five shiny new copies for us to give away. Just answer a simple question here.

JANUARY Procrastination

If you haven’t yet had your fill of the real thing, why not create your own unique snowflake with this amazing snowflake maker. Draw your design on the ‘folded’ triangle, then click to see it unfold. We made the one above by drawing the words ‘LET IT SNOW’. How would your WIP title look as a ‘snowflake’?

What they’re saying

…about working-class literature

Mslexia favourite Kit de Waal highlighted the continuing class divide in literature on Radio 4’s ‘Where are all the working class writers?’. Citing factors such as the soaring cost of further education, library closures, and the contrast between how working-class fiction is treated in the US and the UK, the documentary prompted Penguin Random House director Tom Weldon to urge publishers to ‘respond to the “really urgent commercial imperative” of reflecting working-class experiences in books’. He added: ‘It’s depressing and wrong that culture is driven by a narrow sector of society’. The documentary also criticised the ‘atmosphere’ of publishing, which makes many working-class writers feel out of place.

JANUARY Flash Card

The canoe rippled across the pond. He tied up under the willow, pulled sandwiches from a drybag, watched the image of the mill remake itself as the water stilled.
Something splashed. A trout leaping, a kingfisher diving? He gazed into the water. The upside-down windows flew open, full of faces. The air rang with crashing machinery, wailing children.
He raised his eyes. The mill face was impassive again, windows blank. The willow whispered to the reeds.
In the water, a child’s white bonnet floated. He paddled over, fished it out. Only a plastic bag.

Thanks to Anna Sayburn for this chilling tale.

IMAGE: RYAN MCGUIRE / GRATISOGRAPHY

FEBRUARY FLASH CARD

What’s the story here? Tell us in no more than 100 words for the chance to win £20. Stories (in the body of the email, please) to Françoise by 22 January.

IMAGE: HUGUETTE ROE / SHUTTERSTOCK

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

… about women writing better than men

Every few years there’s a kerfuffle when a male writer says he doesn’t teach or read women writers – so this essay by Irish novelist John Boyne made us applaud. ‘A man is treated like a literary writer from the start, but a woman usually has to earn that commendation,’ he says, adding ‘I think women are better novelists than men’. He backs his claim by listing his favourite writers of the year – all women – and skewering certain young male writers for their stereotypical female characters. While Lit Twitter swooned, the online comments were studded with ruffled egos – alongside some more considered thoughts on the topic. One commenter wrote: ‘It seems as though neither sex can write the other really well (even though women generally make a better fist of it). What hope is there for trans people, say, unless in novels written by trans people?’ What do you think?

MSLEXICON

…when only a new word will do

approprioprologue (n.), a pertinent precursor to Chapter One

epilogator (n.), a tool for plucking out extraneous endings

odometer (n.), a device for poetry assessment

villanelle  (n.), (arch.) a female scoundrel

Multitudinous thanks to Jennifer Moore and Julie Burke. Are there any more new terms we’re missing? Keep sending them our way

JanUARY Petits Fours

Bottle

                                  She invited dark girls,
wore vinyl gloves, shouldered towels,
parted strands of hair.
     BYOB

£20 goes to Sue Spiers for this subtle interpretation of our ‘bottle’ topic. The subject for the next Petit Fours challenge is ‘delivery’. Send to Françoise by 22 Jan.

IMAGE: AFRICA STUDIO / SHUTTERSTOCK

new year CHAOS

A little book of ‘quotes by remarkable women’ arrived at the Towers recently, courtesy of publisher Rock Point. Among the many wise and witty sayings therein was this timely warning from HuffPost founder Ariana Huffington: ‘The enemy of wonder is multitasking’ – an observation that seems especially pertinent at this time of year, and is spelt out with gusto by the Grumpy Old Women. But does it really have to be like that? We’re trying a different approach to the shopping-schlepping-cooking-cleaning taskfest by channelling this more joyous sentiment from Mary Shelley: ‘Invention, it must humbly be admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos’.

So here’s to a chaotic creative 2018.

Anna, Debbie, Casey, Emily, Françoise, Isabel, Kay, Laura and Martha (with more than a little help from Megan)

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We’d love to hear from you. But if you’d prefer not to hear from us in this way, you can opt out by using the unsubscribe link below. Don’t worry, your subscription to big Mslexia will not be affected if you unsubscribe to Little Ms.

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Deadlines Digest
Weidenfeld & Nicolson are looking for fresh and compelling fiction or non-fiction stories exploring the theme of home and what it means to live and belong in the UK today, for their Hometown Tales series. Each book will feature work from two writers – one established and one previously unpublished, found through open submissions. Selection includes a publication advance of £1.5k. Submissions should be around 15k words but no more than 20k words.
Deadline: 14 Jan
BBC Cymru Wales are looking for the next generation of comedy writers. Up to three new comedy programme pilots will be made for BBC One Wales and BBC iPlayer. The pilot that makes the biggest impact – and gets the most laughs – will go on to be commissioned as a series. Submissions should be a comedy-drama or situation comedy script for television and iPlayer of at least 30 minutes in length.
Deadline: 15 Jan
The Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize offers two winners publication of a poetry collection of up to 52 pages, with 20 comp copies. Send submissions of ten poems of up to 36 lines. Fee: £20 per block of poems.
Deadline: 31 Jan
Get even more opportunities in your inbox when you subscribe to Mslexia.
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Career Ladder

The Reader is seeking an energetic, hard-working organised individual to join their team as Children and Young People Programme Manager. This role calls for an exceptionally highly motivated and dedicated person, as you’ll be overseeing the entirety of the programme. £22-25k. Liverpool.
Deadline: 8 Jan, 9am

For more career ideas from around the country and beyond, subscribe to Mslexia here.

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Catch this

Streaming Consciousness brings together Eimear McBride and Kaye Mitchell in discussion about how we can possibly express human experience, thought, and feeling through literature and philosophy.
9 Jan, 6.30-8pm. Free.
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics and Political Science, London

Migration in Poetry features three poets with distinct experiences of migration read and tell their stories, and how it affected their poetry. Poets featured include Norbert Hirschhorn, whose parents emigrated from Poland to Austria, and via Italy and the UK to the USA; Dutch poet Arnold Jansen op de Haar, who moved to the UK in 2014 and is directly affected by Brexit; and TS Eliot Prize-shortlisted Jacqueline Saphra from South Africa.
10 Jan, 8pm. Free. National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre, London

Don’t forget, if you subscribe, you’ll receive even more of our listings and events info each month.

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