How is it Freshers' Week already again?

So, the shortlist emails came out a few weeks ago for this year's Bridport Prize; it turns out I've been listed again for flash fiction, for two separate stories this time, which means I've got four (sub-250 word) stories on my hard drive that have been commended by the Bridport judges. Which, of course, is nice. The shortlisted stories don't go any further - you have to be in the top six to be a contender for the main prizes - so I've got them all out on multiple submission (as usual). Fingers crossed, etc. I've also got a couple of much, much long stories doing the submission rounds. It's a waiting/numbers game to a certain extent - this publication business - so, again, we'll see what happens. In the meantime, I have a pretty nifty online publication coming up very soon - watch this space.

IRL, we went to Paris on holidays back in August, and - drumroll! - got engaged! Don't stay tuned for wedding pics in the near future, mind; I've got a PhD to finish first. On that front, I'm very busy - editing chapters of the critical component of my thesis and drafting/redrafting stories for the creative. One year to go - in fact, my submission date is one year yesterday. Next semester, I'll be running the second-year fiction writing seminar here at the University of Manchester; this semester I'm not teaching, but writing like a maniac. Well! Scheduling alternations mean I am now teaching this semester; fiction writing workshops with the second years in the University's new English & Creative Writing programme. Very much looking forward to getting stuck in, now: roll on Week One!

In November I'll be running a flash fiction workshop for Chorlton Book Festival for 11-16 year-olds; if you (or your kids) are in that age-group, it's on the afternoon of November 17th. There'll be spaces for up to twenty participants. The programme isn't online yet, but I'll stick up a link as and when.

And - non-writing related - I urge you to check out this blog post and consider donating to a very good cause. A dear friend of a very good friend of mine is terminally ill with bowel cancer and is running six marathons in six months to raise awareness and funds for various cancer charities. I don't know Ben myself, though I know people very close to him, and his story is both heartbreaking and inspiring - and while that sounds cliched, I've rarely some across a real-life case that fits that particular description more aptly than Ben's. He's been blogging about his training, his races and his situation for months, now, and this particular entry really sums it all up. It probably will - and probably should - make you cry.