Author Archive: abroadwritersconference

Get your short story published with Abroad

Bring something in from the garden

What’s your process? Does a deadline stop you in your tracks or drive you forward? Does a word limit make your stomach lurch? Does your imagination disappear if there is a big prize to win? Or do you thrive when winnings beckon? If the publishing world raises the stakes for you, do you raise the stakes for your characters and go for it?

Perhaps you prefer to let our story grow organically, like a plant. Maybe you like to watch it reveal new shoots with the seasons. Like a gardener, maybe you tend your story and mull it over in your mind, rather like mulching it over with compost. You know what it’s like to stand in surprise and awe when your story suddenly decides to turn to or from the sunlight.

Whether it’s one or the other, or something else entirely, we think everybody’s writing process is personal and entirely up to them.

But if you want to write something new and amazing for our short story competition, you’ve got until 15 August. There is a word limit and you can submit online. Full details are on the Abroad website. And yes. You life-in-the-fast-lane people will still have to fuss about double-spacing your manuscript.

However, if you’d rather venture out into your writing garden and gently dig up something you’ve tended over the seasons – we like that idea too. Let’s admire the roses together and just mention quietly that there are some prizes. While you prune away that tangle of honeysuckle and clematis, let’s just add that the prizes include Hever conference fellowships, a critique opportunity, and publication on our website and blog. But for now, let’s just fork over the weeds and enjoy the sun.

Competition details

Conference schedule

Controversy: Abroad’s tribute to rule-breakers

Hever was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn

So the question we’re asking is how do we feel about rules? Not just rules to live by but also rules to write by. And do we follow them or not?

This year, we have given the Abroad conference a theme. Controversy.

But here is how we got there.

We planned our conference during two summer holidays in Kent, before we finally decided to go with it and book Hever Castle. We chilled, drank coffee, ate fish and chips on the Dungeness coast, and talked for days. We paid a visit to Hever and nearby Penshurst Place. We wanted to seek out the Tudors, particularly Anne Boleyn. We watched The Other Boleyn Girl, which was filmed extensively in Kent. We also paid a trip to Down House, and walked in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. We thought about Anne Boleyn’s controversial death. We chatted about Darwin’s controversial life. And that’s when we decided we really had a thing about people who break the rules.

Our take on controversy is that it is about allowing change to happen. And it is about how to bring about change when change is needed. We also think there is important controversy and fake controversy. For instance, gossip about sex, nudity and celebrity body fat doesn’t really unsettle us. But when we look at the work of world-changing writers, like Darwin, we see they have challenged our preconceptions, questioned what we accept, sometimes taken huge personal and professional risks, and forced us to think about life in a different way.

And so when we put the conference together, we wanted to help writers producing literature at a time when all the publishing rules are changing. And the tutors we found who could do that include two Pulitzer Prize winners, Robert Olen Butler and Edward Humes, and Alex Shoumatoff, contributing editor of Vanity Fair. Over the next months, we’ll be chatting to them and blogging about their work. Oh, and watch our Twitter feed. If you’re in the middle of a story, a novel or that piece of earth-shattering journalism, we have asked them for some #writetips to help everyone move forwards.

(BTW Here’s a must-read for anyone with a passion for Darwin and evolution. It’s by one of our tutors, Edward Humes, and it’s called Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion & the Battle for America’s Soul.)

Conference schedule