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Agenda5 Silver lining: Melissa Benn reports on the financial difficulties faced by older woman writers9 2016 Women’s Novel Competition winnerForum11 What you're saying about... autism, depression and that s-word on the cover12 Noticeboard13 What happenedwhen you tried to tweet a story; Life sentences14 Spread the love; Tribal loyalty15 Writing in the world: People in palliative care, with Beda Higgins17 Get creative with TinyLetter; BlogwatchShowcase19 Sophie Hannah introduces poems and stories on the theme of ‘guilty’Craft35 Creativity news; writing exercises;What works for ElifShafak36 Giving voice: EmmaClaire Sweeney looks at writing from the POV of someone who can’t speak for herself39 Musical theatre: Susannah Pearse on the role of the writer40 Alison Macleod's Achilles' heel; Flash genre: Evangeline Payne41 Poetry challenge: haiku, selected by Linda France42 The three faces of Eve: Jane Rogers on complex female characters51 Advice to my younger self;Submission bootcamp: embracing imperfection52 Minimal social media: Polly Allenon how to manageyour online time 54 Pitch surgery withRebecca Carter;Pitch calendar55 Self-help book testdrive with MegClothierDoors open57 Open for submissions;Insight: pitchprospects59 Insight: scriptsubmissions to Nottingham Playhouse60 Open for entries: competitions and awards;Insight: manuscript wishlist from Sarah Manning61 Insight: Gladstone’s Writer in Residence63 Insight: Bridport Prize64 Time away: writing holidaysOut now65 Début author interview: Rosemary Dun66 Six best books by BAME writers; Books about writing67 Fiction issues: women writing science fiction by Liesel Schwarz68 Short story news; review by Alice Slater69 Short story heroes: Lucia Berlin70 Script news; I confess71 Non-fiction: food writing with Caroline Sanderson; E is for...72 Poetry news;review by Alex PryceDon't miss73 Events and courses; Insight: getting a gig at Dead Women Poets Society77 Insight: into a Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze performanceAnd finally79 Sara Khan’s bedtime reading;What we're up to80 Submitting and subscribing to MslexiaNotice the pauses before she delivers the word, and the corresponding laughter; the longer the pause, the funnier it seemsNICKY CRABB P77CTONTENTS his issue of the magazineis all about engagement – from our poll on p11, in which 68 per cent of you said that your writingcan’t help but reflect and be affected by our troubled times, to Bev Clark’s perky and perspicacious rhyme story on p40 about Oswald the ostrich who stuck his head in the sand.And it’s pretty much what Melissa Benn’s agenda feature is all about: urging us to look to our futures as writers and anchor our wilder flights of literary ambition with a dose of financial planning and reality testing.It feels like hard work, sometimes, this writing business. But would you have it any other way? We’re so lucky to be involved in an art form that allows us to engage with what angers and delights us, that comforts and challenges us, that costs so little the poorest amongst us are still able to join in – an art form that most of us need never retire from.4445Rhyme story: ‘Oswald’s choice’ by Bev Clark; Picture this: Harriet MuncasterFirst page surgery with Anna SouthInterview47 Emily Berry talks to Alex PryceCareer50 Publishing news; Madame Lexi’s crystal ballFEATURES‘This is a story about a mother who lovesher daughter. Imperfectly. Because we all love imperfectly’ JANE ROGERSP42‘it is excitingto think youcan redressthe balance for women writers or less well-known writing’EMILY BERRY P47How could I be sure I’d achieved authenticity if the people I wrote about could not answer back? EMMA CLAIRE SWEENEYP36DEBBIETAYLOR isthe founderand EditorialDirector ofMslexia. She haswritten for Oxfam,UNICEF, Anti-Slavery,WHO and others aboutwomen and social issues. Her books include My Children, My Gold (Virago), a travelogue about single mothers, and The Fourth Queen (Penguin), a novel set in a harem in 18th Century Morocco. Her latest novel, Herring Girl (Oneworld), a paranormal historical murder mystery, is out now.‘almost every woman I spoke to grimaced or groaned when questioned about asking formore money’MELISSA BENN, P5mslexia Mar/Apr/May 2017 3

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