Literary events in Leicestershire for June 2018

June’s a busy month in Leicestershire:

7 June 1pm Loughborough University Arts Festival Dr Kerry Featherstone in Conversation with Kate Rhodes

7 June 5.30-7pm Mahsuda Snaith and Rob Palk read from and talk about their first novels at Room 0.01 Clephan Building De Montfort University. Free entry.

9 June 10.30am Poetanoster, Digital Reading Room David Wilson Library Leicester University. Free entry and free souvenier pamphlet of poems inspired by the former paternoster lifts in the Attenborough Tower read at the event.

11 June 6pm The Art of the Poem with Pam Thompson and Simon Perril Room 0.01 Clephan Building De Montfort University. Free entry.

12 June 1pm Poetry workshop at Loughborough University with Shruti Chauhan

12 June 6.30pm Carol Leeming and Richard Byrt Needle and Pin, The Rushes Loughborough. Open mic slots available – sign up on the night.

12 June 6.30pm Leicester Book Prize Readings at the Exchange Bar, Rutland Street, Leicester – part of the Leicester Writes Festival.

16 June 2pm South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza, Leicester Language Academy, New Walk, Leicester. Poetry workshop.

19 June 7.30pm Big Bookshop Bash, Kibworth Cricket Club New Ground. Quiz and supper hosted by the Bookshop as part of Feminist Book Fortnight.

20 June 12 noon De Montfort University hosts readings for Refugee Week in the DSU Atrium.

20 June 7pm Central Library, Bishop Street Leicester, LE1 6AA Leicester Writers’ Showcase features David Wilkinson launching his second science fiction novel set in the Anjelican series featuring Jaq Pilakin.

20 June 7-9pm Soundswrite Press and ArtBeat at Friends Meeting House, Queens Road, Leicester. The event is free and open to all women with an interest in reading and discussing poetry. You are welcome to bring along copies of poems to share or just turn up and enjoy.

21 June 7-9pm Carys Davies is at Leicester Writers’ Club, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester, LE1 1TG. Talk, reading and question and answer sessions with award-winning short story writer now promoting her debut novel.

26 June 6.30pm The Hybrid Author – join The Writers’ Shed at the Exchange Bar, Rutland Street, Leicester for a discussion on hybrid publishing and how writers can benefit from both traditional and independent publishing. Part of the Leicester Writes festival.

28 June WORD! Attenborough Arts, Lancaster Street, Leicester moved from the first Tuesday of each month to the last Thursday clashing with both Leicester Writers’ Club and Soundswrite.

30 June from 10.30am Leicester Writes Short Story Festival at LCB Depot

In addition Soundswrite are looking for poetry submissions for their Take Three initiative. More details from Soundswrite Press.


Leicester Writers’ Showcase: Literary Activity in Leicester

Leicester Writers' Showcase logo

Wednesday 13 December 2017 from 6.45pm at Leicester’s Central Library, Bishop Street, LE1 6AA, free entry, Leicester Writers’ Showcase is hosting an event focusing on literary activity in the Leicester and Leicestershire and what can be done to raise its profile locally, nationally and internationally.

Speakers include:

  • Councillor Sarah Russell, Assistant City Mayor for Children, Young People and Schools
  • Henderson Mullin, CEO, Writing East Midlands
  • James Urquhart, Relationship Manager for Literature in the Midlands, Arts Council England
  • Emma Lee, President Leicester Writers’ Club, poet, reviewer, editor and event organiser
  • Farhana Shaikh, Dahlia Publishing who also organises Leicester Writes meetings and festival and publishes The Asian Writer
  • Bobba Cass, activist, performance poet and spoken word event organiser
  • Carol Leeming FRSA, of Dare to Diva Productions, poet, songwriter, playwright and performance artist.

The event will be chaired by Attenborough Arts Centre director, Michaela Butter MBE.

There will also be a display of books by local writers, and a discussion and question and answer session with those present.

Leicester Writers’ Showcase

The Leicester Writers’ Showcase started in January 2017 and hosts a literary event once a month. Featured writers and publications include “Welcome to Leicester”, “Lost & Found: stories of home by Leicestershire writers” (both Dahlia Publishing), Carol Leeming, Marianne Whiting, Andrew Bannister, Julia Herdman, Mahsuda Snaith, Siobhan Logan, Soundswrite Poetry Press, Ella@100 – an evening of jazz-inspired poetry and November’s event will feature Margaret Penfold (15 November from 6.45pm, Central Library). All events are free to attend.

For Readers

The Leicester Writers’ Showcase offers a chance for local readers to meet and hear from local writers and find out what books local writers publish. Readers can discover local authors who have won major book deals, been shortlisted for the Hugo Awards, Carnegie Awards, won short story competitions, have been published both in the UK and abroad and host live literature events and readings locally. It gives readers the chance to ask questions directly to authors about their journey to publication, what promotions and publications are forthcoming and be the first to hear about new work so it’s a great networking opportunity.

Local writers are those either living or working in Leicester or who have been published by a Leicester publisher or who regularly attend a writers’ or spoken word group in the city. Showcases so far have included Leicester-themed anthologies, short stories, contemporary poetry, historical fiction, science-fiction, contemporary fiction and spoken word.

For Writers

Leicester Writers’ Showcase offers local writers the opportunity to use Central Library free of charge to hold a launch-style event, combining a reading, talk and question and answer session to suit with the library providing light refreshments during the interval. It is possible to writers to team up with another writer or for a writers’ group to showcase the group’s work. Writers and spoken word artists can bring books, CDs, pamphlets, etc to sell at the event.

Writers also benefit from the Libraries producing leaflets for distribution throughout Leicester City Libraries and similar venues. In addition the Leicester Writers’ Showcase prepare press releases which are sent to the Leicester Mercury, Great Central, BBC Radio Leicester and Writing East Midlands. In addition each Leicester Writers’ Showcase event is videoed and photographed and featured writers are able to use these in other promotional materials.

Leicester Writers’ Showcase Projects

Projects that have arisen from Leicester Writers’ Showcase include the Local Writers’ Fair held during Everybody’s Reading and the Local Writers’ Corner, which will feature books by local writers and will be set up during 2018. Leicester has a great literary tradition which the Leicester Writers’ Showcase supports.


Survival Tips for Writers’ Promotional Events

Promotion is part and parcel of being a writer, especially for poets.  Publishers have a finite marketing budget and resistance is futile: no promotion = no sales = no further publishing contracts (and possibly the withdrawal of an existing contract depending on the terms).

Promotion may involve readings, book signings, literature festivals, writers’/readers’ groups.  Generally bring some drinks, something to eat, promotional material (books, leaflets, etc), a notebook, at least one pen (preferably working) and wear layers (live literature venues are idiosyncratic with regard to heating/air conditioning).

Here’s a Survival Guide:-


  • Find out as much as you can about the venue beforehand – what’s the venue’s capacity, will there be a microphone, can you bring books to sell and/or other promotional material, can you park nearby, what’s the name of the person meeting you?
  • Ask how long you have to read. Select what you’re reading and rehearse beforehand so you’re not constantly looking at your watch as you’re reading.
  • Find out what the format of the reading will be – is there an interval, do they usually have a question and answer session, are you expected to mingle with the audience? If the format doesn’t suit you, negotiate before the reading, not when you turn up.
  • Be seen – it’s OK to sit if you’re on a raised platform, not if sitting means you’re only visible to the first two rows. Don’t ignore your audience and be polite.

Book Signings

  • Smile. If you look friendly, people will generally be friendly.
  • Sign willingly. It’s OK just to scribble your name if there is a long queue, but try to accommodate requests for personalised messages.
  • You agreed to do this (maybe at the insistence of someone else with a metaphorical gun to your head) so get on with it.

Literature Festivals

  • Some festivals are brilliantly organised by people who understand what writers need to know. Some aren’t. Get as much information as you can – are you reading, running a workshop, on a writers’ panel, at a question and answer session or talking about being a writer? How much time do you have? How about accommodation/parking/catering (you may have to do these yourself so make sure you know)?
  • Find out about your venue and facilities.  If you’re running a workshop are you expected to provide materials, will a flipchart/whiteboard be available, is the workshop aimed at beginners or writers with some experience?
  • Rehearse talks and readings for timing.  If you’re doing a writers’ panel or question and answer session, think around topics and answers beforehand.  Have a couple of questions ready (even if you’re the only writer involved) to cover that awkward moment where the master of ceremonies asks the audience for questions and they have a collective blank moment.

Writers’/Readers’ Groups

  • Find out what they want – reading/talk/questions and answers/a combination? How long are you expected to be there?
  • Find out what the venue’s like and whether the group meets in an informal cosy library or more formal lecture hall environment – you need to consider how to present your reading/talk.
  • Rehearse your timing and prepare questions – sometimes starting with “frequently I’m asked about…” can help warm up an audience.

Quick Survival Tips for Writers’ Promotional Events

  • Promotion is a privilege – be professional (and you’ll be asked back).
  • If reading, rehearse and time yourself.
  • If doing a question and answer session – prepare some questions to warm up your audience.
  • Respect your audience – don’t complain in front of them.
  • Turn your audience into customer evangelists – if they had a good time, they’ll do your promotion for you.

Leicestershire Authors Showcase Hallowe’en 2007

A simple and effective idea: take ten writers, an audience of librarians and teachers and let the writers talk about their work and/or perform it. The writers get to raise their profiles and librarians and teachers are encouraged to use local authors.

Except it was subject to the usual pitfalls. I was fighting off a cold and sore throat combination so thought it better to keep it short but audible rather than stick with the original, longer version and leave mid-poem as my voice gave up.

But why do writers, knowing full well they have an audience and how long they have the stage for, fail to consider the audience? That doesn’t apply to everyone at the Showcase. However, there was the writer who over-ran (“Well, I had so much to pack in.”), the writer who had prepared reading the extract from their work but not the talk inbetween, the writer who complained “People don’t understand this, but…” then explained in unnecessary detail and the writers who asked “Am I all right for time?” (although those immediately following the writer who over-ran are excused on this point as they were aware they had to get the day’s schedule back on time).

There’s no excuse for insulting your audience. Your audience are intelligent and want you to succeed, if only because it’s horribly uncomfortable trying not to squirm whilst stuck with a poor presenter. This audience was good. Live readings enable writers to get instant feedback. Friendly smiles and nods reassure as does laughter at intended jokes. If an audience is frequently glancing at watches, fidgeting and/or reading notes, get the hint and finish quickly. The best feedback of all is that attentive silence that says “we’re listening because you considered us.”

Today lack of consideration for the audience could only backfire. The audience weren’t just there to put a name to a face or listen to writers rattling off a list of publications, readings and workshops but to see how those writers could cope in front of an audience. Teachers aren’t going to book someone who’s going to bore their students rigid or who can’t keep to a specified time. Librarians aren’t going to book a reading by someone who can’t prepare for or work with an audience.

A big thank you to the county librarians who organised the event and the audience who attended.