About Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts is a publisher/editor. fiction writer and teacher, event organiser, photographer, book designer, NLP master practitioner, life coach and trainer. She sings for fun. Through Arachne Press she publishes fiction and non fiction and runs spoken word events and cross-arts workshops for writers at interesting venues. Always interested in new opportunites to perform, write or explore writing.

Seabirds and Spiders


On Sunday at 12:45 I’m joining Cornwall-based authors, Clare Owen and Jackie Taylor at the Causley Festival, where we will be talking about Cornwall, writing fiction imbued with nature, and the role of seabirds in their writing.

We had flirted with the idea of meeting up somewhere in Cornwall for this, but instead it is online, so anyone can come. Free!

My contribution is to talk about why spiders matter to me, and more generally about publishing writers who live in geographically isolated places. Our individual sections are pre-recorded and then we’ll talk about writing, publishing, the climate crisis, and anything else that grabs us, in a Q& A that the audience is positively encouraged to join in.

Back in the Water – video


The idea behind back in the water as a theme (Brockley Max festival, Writers of Our Age) was getting back to normal life. We still haven’t really, and we didn’t stick to that brief, but water definitely came into it! Two stories from me, Lift Off, which will be featured in FlashFlood 2021 on 26th June, and Greenlanders, which was read at Liars’ League a while back.

Back In The Water


I’m joining my WooA mates to read at Brockley Max on 3rd June at 7.30.

Our theme is Back in the Water, a sort of post lockdown dipping of toes into the sea type of idea. We may not be taking either of these ideas literally.

We are staying on line because although WooA (Writers of OUR Age) originated in Brockley, some longstanding members have moved away and it is impractical to get us together in real life.

We think there will be five writers, with five stories, of betweeen 1000 and 1500 words each, but like our theme our plans are fluid.

Come and join us, the water’s lovely!

Tickets are free, and available from Eventbrite. Please book to receive the zoom link.

Hosted by Arachne Press.

Air: Sylphs, Spirits and Swan Maidens


My latest publication! buy it here:

I couldn’t make the launch, which although on line was at 2am in the morning, so I recroded a reading of the first page or so. Here it is.

my creature of the air, is nothing like the cover image. I had something more like this in mind, but with wilder hair and feathers on her face.

Welcome to the Arachneversary: Video One – Mosaic of Air


The first of the Arachneversary posts over on https://arachnepress.com
I’ve been interviewing authors and editors all month, and will be talking about The Dowry Blade tonight at 8pm BST if you fancy a watch – also on Arachne’s YouTube and Facebook accounts.

Arachne Press

Mosaic of Airwas the book that kicked off Arachne Press. Here, Arachne owner, editor (and in this case, author) Cherry Potts talks about the how and why of that, and reads from two of the stories, with assistance from Alix Adams.

Buy a copy of Mosaic of Air from our webshop.

View original post

Learn from me at ONLINE Summer School


Today is National Writing Day, and I’ve spent the morning doing just that – a bit of pandemic set-aside, paused the novel and started something that may be a novlla in flash, maybe.  And because it’s National Writing Day, a good moment to invite you to join me for An Approach to Creative Writing Summer School… on line.

There are many disadvantages to online learning, I won’t pretend otherwise, though I’ve been learning on the job, and the course is a lot more slick than it was when we switched to online with 6 hours notice back in March! The course has been completely rewritten for online delivery.

Advantages are: it saves me an hour plus on the tube each way, and it means you don’t need to be in reach of London to attend.

The course is part of City, University of London, and we use their licence for MS Teams, which once signed up you can download. I don’t recommend trying to do this on a phone, the minimum for being able to see what I’m sharing would be a tablet of some kind.

files01 writing fiction 2 min

This is aimed at people who like to concentrate their learning, but as I am completely out of the habit of talking all day and need a major lie down in between sessions, especially online, the format is now ten weekday afternoons, over a fortnight, so that I get a rest and students get a chance to put their learning into practice and do some writing over the weekend. If evenings are not for you, this is a possible alternative.

2018-05-06 12.53.15

So from Monday 20th July 2-4pm for 10 days you can immerse yourself in everything to do with writing fiction at An Approach to Creative Writing Summer School… on line, booking is open!

The course is limited to 15 people. When I checked this morning there were 9 places left.

We will work mainly on short stories (including flash), exploring inspirations, characters, plots, themes, narrative voice, point of view, dialogue and so on, but with some exploration of how to approach longer work, including planning and structure and looking after yourself. Depending on the interests of the group we will cover writing for performance, and specific genres.  You will get the course tailored to the people who attend, as far as humanly possible, provided you complete the precourse questionnaire!

If you have been thinking about doing a creative writing course, and you like your learning in focussed bursts, this might be right up your alley.

 

 

Who or What is WooA?


I’m reading at this virtual event on Friday, so no matter where you are, join us!

Arachne Press

WooA… a recent member of this writing group asked me how the name came about:

WooA = Writers of OUR age. Apparently, when founding members were on an MA together, amongst much younger writers, they found themselves saying this on a regular basis and it stuck, sometimes the ‘our’ is not emphasised, and we refer to ourselves like this with muted irony.

WooA logo

WooA is where the second Arachne Press title, Stations originated – we used to meet in the Broca cafe just opposite Brockley Station, (I wrote such a lot of food-themed stories then!)

The Overground runs at the bottom of my garden. Before there was the Overground, there was only Southern, but trains went to London Bridge, Victoria and Charing Cross. With the advent of the Overground, the Charing Cross trains were lost, and with them, the possibility of an easy last train home from many favourite central London…

View original post 470 more words

Final Flight


Published August 2020, my rather long short story, Final Flight will be published in Air: Sylphs, Spirits, & Swan Maidens   Edited by Rhonda Parrish 

buy a copy here

This is the cover. Needless to say my creature of the air is a great deal earthier than this suggests!

Air-500x775ish

Table of Contents

The Snow Wife by Rose Strickman
Into Thick Air by Davian Aw
Faery Dust by Mark Bruce
Of White Cranes and Blue Stars by Alexandra Seidel
Dead Man’s Hustle by Damascus Mincemeyer
Final Flight by Cherry Potts
The Ravens, Before Returning by Ellen Huang
Their Disappearing Edges by Giselle Leeb
Swanmaid by Bronwynn Erskine
The Whippoorwill by Kevin Cockle
Nephele, On Friday by Elizabeth R. McClellan
Golden Goose by Chadwick Ginther
The House with a Pond with a Girl In It by Christa Hogan
Research Log ~~33 by Rowena McGowan
Eiyri by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Raven Girl by Alyson Faye
Time to Fold by Mara Malins
We All Fall Down by Sara C. Walker
The Sky Thief by Elise Forier Edie
Late Tuesday by Oliver Smith
Wind Song by Sarah Van Goethem

Remembering Lilian Mohin


I’ve just read in yesterday’s Guardian Other Lives, that Lilian Mohin has died, age 81, although the online version is dated March, so lockdown and Covid-enlarged deathrate must have pushed her off the paper version initially. I don’t think she’d be pleased.

We argued, the first time Lilian and I met, and for a while I avoided her as best I could. A couple of years later that first story was published. I’d been having a really bad time at work and I remember tossing the acceptance letter in the air with delight. All grumbles were forgotten.

After a second anthology acceptance of two stories, Lilian confided that she got sent some very bad stories, and wished she got work like mine more often.

I took her at her word. Every couple of weeks or so, I sent her a story, in the post. (The internet was in its infancy. I remember her saying how she was staying in touch with friends in the US via ’email’ and being bemused, it sounded very like witchcraft.) Each envelope was marked ‘Amusing Ms Mohin.’ We both enjoyed it and she would phone to discuss the latest. (Not your best, dearrr-heart, Needs some work, Pumpkin, This is goood.)

Eventually Ms Mohin was amused enough to publish my first collection. (I was thrilled, I got to choose the cover, I got to choose the font – Garamond, still my favourite I got to veto, if not choose the paper!) I now realise how unusual this was, but I was interested in every aspect, so she talked to me about every aspect, except – crucially – one.

I annoyed the hell out of Lilian by refusing to do any publicity beyond a launch at my local bookshop, and a couple of readings elsewhere. I didn’t understand how important it was, I was borderline agoraphobic (more than borderline, if I’m honest), the idea of radio interviews horrified me, and she hadn’t the patience to explain. Despite that, the book sold reasonably well, owing to the phenomenal Onlywomen mailing list – and people bought books then, almost automatically. I own a copy of virtually everything Onlywomen published.

For a while I spent a lot of time in Lilian’s company, both socially and in a business context. I was briefly on the advisory board, (where I met some fantastic women) and I helped with rebranding for the 21st anniversary (there were a lot of laughs to be had from that).

When I first started pulling away from working at things that were nothing to do with writing I helped out in the office, then in the basement of a town house opposite the British Library, one afternoon a week. I read and commented on manuscripts, sent rejection letters, went to the post office with mail orders…  on one occasion bringing brackets, screws and a screwdriver to fix her collapsing desk – it had been like that for weeks, I didn’t dare lean on it. Lilian hardly ate, and I took to bringing lunch with me and making her share it. I had to be imaginative, she didn’t eat dairy, or citrus and – was it tomatoes? I can’t remember, but we had fun with my concoctions.

It is frequently her voice I hear when I am editing my own work – soft, drawling, but what she had to say, to the point. Sometimes she spoke so softly I couldn’t hear her, but I never said so – I would say I don’t know over and over until she spoke up. That probably annoyed her too.

When not editing, she was the mistress of the digression, and I found her very difficult to follow at full volume, never mind her habitual die-away tone. Initially I put in mental parentheses to try to keep track, then, taking a leaf from my partner’s book, would say, put a pin in that, stick to the point. She liked that, and would sometimes voluntarily put a pin in, and come back to the deviation when the import of the conversation was dealt with.

I spent some time office-hunting with her when the lease (or was it the funding?) ran out on the basement, and eventually she gave up and worked from home. Cue more lunches, and meetings dominated by the antics of cat Simpkin (a delightful animal), and I got told some life history – named for the woman who took her pregnant mother in when she arrived in Kent escaping Nazi Germany, her wondrously tall children (Lilian was positively birdlike herself), her MS, her love life.

Eventually came the rejection, in quick succession, of the second collection, and of the novel that she asked me to write. I took my manuscripts away, wounded, and we (wisely) didn’t speak for a bit. Then she phoned me up and said, that collection… It was months later. I quoted back the mean-spirited spidery-pencilled scrawls on the manuscript. She squirmed. I invited her to a birthday party, warning her that there would be men there (we had both been separatists, I had since discovered one or two men I quite liked. It felt like a test – if she came, we were back on, if she didn’t…) She said she wouldn’t come. She said she would come, necessitating changes to the food. She arrived, and sat in the kitchen sulking, where she gradually unthawed until she was holding court in there, with the cats, and mostly, ironically, to the men. They set up a mutual admiration society while the party went on around them. We made up, we published.

I worked harder at promoting that one, I understood, now. When Onlywomen hit its 35th anniversary (coinciding with Lilian’s 70th year – I went to her birthday party) I organised a reading at my local library with other writers published by Onlywomen, and it hit me, as I was doing the introductions, that Lilian had devoted half her life to Onlywomen.

Eventually we fell out again. It was inevitable really, with Lilian, either you were in, or you weren’t. We didn’t drift apart, we didn’t lose touch. It was always all or nothing with Lilian, she didn’t do half measures, and I think that had rubbed off on me, it was entirely intentional on my part.

She was still having an impact on my life though, as, in reaction, I set up Arachne Press. And then found out how little I really knew, despite all those conversations in the basement opposite the British Museum.