Spring/Summer 2015

It’s been a busy time. Yeah, I know I always say that.  But come on, really, cut me some slack here:  Check out this  rundown of some of the projects I’ve been working on in the last six months (plus.) (Oh god, has it been that long since I updated this?) (Yes.)

For my own writing it’s been a pretty eventful year: I’ve read short fiction and nonfiction at lots of live literature nights. I won the last  Flashtag Short Short Story Slam in Manchester. I was commissioned to write a shory story for the brilliant Re/Place project, about the  Longford Cinema in Stretford. And I was paid to perform my fiction for the first time  at the Royal Exchange as part of the Bad Language Special FX showcase.  Three of my flash stories will be published in Neon next month.

I’ve launched a new live creative nonfiction night in Manchester, The Real Story, in conjunction with co-editor Nija Dalal-Small. We’re hoping to raise the profile of the form a bit in the Northwest, and are working with some brilliant writers to polish pieces for performance and publication.

I’ve become an associate lecturer on the Digital Journalism MA at the University of Salford, and  will be a visiting lecturer on the  Creative Writing course at Edge Hill University on the subject of creative nonfiction.

I’ve continued to work with the mighty Manchester Literature Festival, doing a number of things including copywriting, social media, digital content and hosting events and talks with authors. Our tenth anniversary festival is coming up October 12-25, and it’s a corker.

I’ve appeared on panels at the Writer’s Toolkit writing conference in Birmingham and Page Talk young writers’ festival in the West Midlands, hosted the Northern Lights Writers Conference in Sale and spoken about careers in writing at The University of Cumbria.

I’ve delivered writing/social media workshops for Cancer Research UK,  Bolton @Home and Castlefield Gallery and I’m working on a series of flash fiction workshops for young people involved in the Text Adventure Time project taking place in libraries across the north. Here’s a blog post I wrote for that.

I continue to work as a freelance journalist, doing restaurant reviews and occasional features for Creative Tourist and have recently started writing a regular food and drink column for Time Out. I added Vice’s food site Munchies to my publication list, among other new clients. Here’s one of my favourite recent pieces: Ten things you learn when you move to Manchester. Yeah, it’s a listicle. I hate listicles, so I tried to make it as non-listicleish as I could. Did I mention I hate listicles?

 

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Winter 2012/13

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Once again, I’ve been so busy that a whole season has escaped me. Autumn 2012 whooshed past in a blur. It was a good kind of blur, with lots of interesting stuff happening inside it, but the blur didn’t leave much time for blogging. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to since last summer:

  • I organised the first ever Blog North Awards, which were a big success. We had 543 bloggers from across the land enter and ended up with a pretty amazing bunch of winners, who were revealed at a packed event during the Manchester Literature Festival, which featured readings that ranged from funny to touching, from thought-provoking to hell-raising. Basically, the whole experience reaffirmed my love for blogging and for doing the sometimes strange work I do spreading the gospel of BLOG.
  • I ran two all-day blogging workshops for the Arts Marketing Association in London and Birmingham. I met some lovely people, and everyone seemed to get a lot out of the day’s work. I even made them write in longhand but they were very good sports. Here’s some nice things they said about the workshop:

“Great blogging workshop with Kate Feld and the AMA yesterday. Feeling inspired – watch this space!”

“Buzzing with ideas after today’s ‘Art of Blogging’. Cheers for an insightful day!”

“Huge thanks to Kate Feld and the AMA for such a stimulating & inspiring training day on ‘the art of blogging’ today. Highly recommended.”

  • In February I ran a 2-hour workshop on Creative Nonfiction in Lancaster as part of Litfest’s fascinating Castle Park Stories project, which aims to uncover some of the hidden stories of this historic place and bring them to life. It was a great session with a really diverse and enthusiastic group of writers. And I got to revisit what is probably my favourite form of writing, the much misunderstood format of Creative Nonfiction, which I previously explored in The Real Story project. It’s inspired me to go back and read one of my favourite collections of reportage (Joseph Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel. That’s him up there.)
  • I’ve recently moved to the post of contributing editor at Creative Tourist, as the ever-capable Susie Stubbs was ready to return to editing the site. While out of the role, she was busy overseeing a complete redesign of the site and a pretty exciting restructure of Creative Tourist generally. Once part of the Manchester Museums Consortium, it has now become an independent entity and has moved into new geographic areas, covering culture in Liverpool and Cumbria as well as Manchester. Another change is the creation of a cultural tourism consultancy firm, CT Consults, which I am now a part of along with the whole amazingly talented team behind Creative Tourist (go on, hire us!) I’m still writing a lot for the Creative Tourist site, and some of my favourite recent pieces include this review of the Jane and Louise Wilson exhibition at Whitworth Art Gallery, and this review of new Manchester restaurant Neighbourhood.

What am I working on now? Well I’m planning some more bloggy/literary events with Creative Industries Trafford and others. I’m helping sort out the next Blog North Network event (probably happening in Leeds, in April.) But now I’m mostly around talking to people about Rainy City Stories, Openstories’ Manchester-based writing project that is fixing to emerge from its long hibernation this spring. Planning and plotting; brainstorming, budgeting and grant writing.  All will be revealed soon.

Spring 2012

Hello! I’ve suddenly got lots of interesting things happening this spring. It’s so good to be getting out and about after the long dark winter, which is still looking very dark and glowery from where I’m sitting, but it surely can’t be here for much longer. Right?

Putting my Openstories hat on: On March 27th I’ll be taking part in a panel discussion about new writing communities at the National Association for Literature Development’s spring conference, The Space Between Us, at The Tabernacle in London. Really looking forward to this one; the two days of the conference are packed with interesting talks, workshops and readings. I’ve done a post on the NALD website on the topic of how working online has changed what writers and editors do.

I’m running another public session on The Art Of Blogging at Cornerhouse in Manchester on 17 April. Will add link as soon as the booking is up. I’ve also just done a mammoth new blogs update on Manchizzle. It’s great to see so many wonderful new Manchester blogs about.

I’m also reading my creative writing at the Prestiwch Festival on May 17 at The Church pub at 7:30pm – more details on that as I get them. Trying to decide between reading an essay or a short story, depends what’s ready first. (And if none of them are I shall be forced to stand and silently  stare at my shoes in public. Oh dear.)

Lots of exciting developments on the Creative Tourist front, but nothing I can share yet. In the meantime, I’ve been commissioning, editing and  even occasionally writing content for Manchester’s finest cultural web magazine. I really enjoyed doing this little piece about Manchester’s independent record shops, and this chat with artist Leo Fitzmaurice just before he won the Northern Art Prize.

I’ve also reviewed Jackie Kay’s memoir Red Dust Road over on the excellent For Books’ Sake blog.

Winter 2010

So what have I been up to? Mainly I’ve been working on the content for a new arts listings website in Manchester. It’ll be launching in March, so I’ll update this post with the details then, but it’s been a really interesting project that has consumed much of my time for the last couple of months.

I continue to contribute regularly to CreativeTourist.com, an exciting collaboration that sees me poking my nose into all sorts of interesting places around cultural Manchester.

The 2009 Manchester Literature Festival was a big success overall and I’m pleased to report that both of my projects came off without a hitch. The Rainy City Stories events sold out quickly and went well, and the fourth annual Manchester Blog Awards was bigger than ever before at the brand new Band on The Wall.  Now I’m working on lining up funding for next year’s events. I’m also setting up a series of Rainy City Stories creative writing workshops throughout Greater Manchester to take place this spring, and planning a very exciting writing contest for the website.

With Chris Horkan of Oh Digital and Cathy Bolton of MLF I’m setting up a non-profit organisation, Openstories, that will work on projects that involve literature and technology. Paperwork galore, but hopefully some great projects to come once the red tape is out of the way.

The blogging work continues. I’m involved with a group of bloggers who are trying to set up a local blog aggregator/publication in Manchester. And my own blog, Manchizzle, was recently named one of Lastminute.com’s Top 50 Blogs About Good Stuff, a real honour as it means the blog is in the top tier of UK travel and culture blogs.

Summer/Autumn 09

Whew! The Manchester International Festival has finally rolled out of town, leaving a city full of blissed out culturehounds lolling helplessly in its wake. This year I gave my press pass a serious workout, reviewing several of the events on The Manchizzle. My review of It Felt Like a Kiss seemed to spark the most discussion, but the high point of the festival for me was Antony and the Johnsons incredible performance with Manchester Camerata.

This month I’m busy working on content for the newly-launched Creative Tourist website for the Manchester Museums Commission; I’m helping editor Susie Stubbs polish up the writing and am in charge of getting local bloggers to contribute guest posts for this fine web magazine. I’m really happy with how the site looks, and it seems to have been very well received.

The Guardian asked me to contribute to an article in which city bloggers suggested alternative lunch break activities for tourists in UK cities. I told people to go mooch around Castlefield and soak up the ambiance in Manchester’s most cinematic district. You can read it here.

I’m nearly ready to launch the new website for the Manchester Blog Awards, and am working on this year’s live event which will take place October 21 at Band on the Wall, and feature author Jenn Ashworth,  a host of Mancunian blogsmiths reading their work, and the return of the Blogapalooza mp3 djs. I’m excited about holding the awards at this iconic and newly reborn venue, and am also pleased about this year’s support from Arts Council England, which has enabled us to up the ante and put together a bigger and better event. Though they wouldn’t pony up for the uniformed monkeys presenting awards. There goes my beautiful vision.

And I’m getting some help from the fine folks at Radio Regen on podcasting. After some training from them I’ll be able to produce the first of our planned series of podcasts featuring writers from the Rainy City Stories project reading their contributions. This will launch in a live event at the Manchester Literature Festival in October. Which promises to be a busy month indeed…