Monday, 14 December 2009

Writing Buddies at the library!

Following our enforced move from our home at Borders bookshop, we held a meeting at the central library in Southampton. The room was great but very chilly and so we are thinking about our options for the future. Watch this space...

In the meantime, it was a small band of Writing Buddies who turned out to welcome our guest, Nicola Guy, the Local History Commissioning Editor for The History Press. Nicola came armed with some great advice for all writers, 'Make sure you have a web presence in this day and age.' Several of the Buddies have either webs or blogs, some both, and several others are in the process of setting up one or the other. All agree that it is an invaluable marketing tool.

Poet Peter joined an open mic session in Swindon recently, which is now on YouTube. You can listen to two of his poems here. He is currently working on a proposal through a poets literary agency and will be at both Poole and Wimborne poetry groups in the near future.

Tessa distributed Writers in Southampton bookmarks to all the Writing Buddies. These she has been involved in designing. She is still working on the second book in her trilogy, to follow The Dohlen Inheritance published earlier this year.

Jacqueline P has started a voluntary job in Eastleigh working for Talking News, which brings the news to those with sight problems.

Chris has written a short story and now has to decide on her market. She is also undecided as to what to do with the manuscript of a book on bringing up teenagers which she has taken four years to write, in conjunction with a co-writer. The script is too long as it stands and she is wondering how to take this forward. Various options were discussed.

Philippa has been to the Second Light Network for older women poets. She had previously met a Rumanian poet there and this led to her poems being translated into Rumanian. Philippa has just finished work on bringing Rumanian poetry into a readable English format, which she admitted was difficult. She has just judged the Christmas Poetry Competition at the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and she also discussed letters she has which she may offer to the Imperial War Museum or the British Legion as they were written during the Second World War by a friend.

Jimmy is busy waging war in a parallel universe in his sci-fi novel. He has sent in an entry for the Biscuit Publications International Fiction Competition and looks forward to the feedback he will receive from this. He is about to launch a Davy Collins and the Sundance Gang blog to publicise his ten novel series on the adventures of a group of boys growing up in the 1950s. He has also put part of one of the novels on Authonomy and is keeping his fingers crossed.

The Writing Buddies welcomed Nicola, who said that The History Press were looking for authors to take on various projects, including writing the history of Eastleigh, writing on the Second World War and in particular, on its effects on Southampton, crime history and genealogy. She said too that the 'Voices of ' series is popular.

Penny is just coming to the end of her work on folklore and will be forwarding the manuscript to The History Press soon. She has been tutoring for The Writers Bureau on both their non-fiction and their proofreading and copyediting courses and has just completed a PTLLS teaching certificate.

In all the meeting was short but packed with interesting information. The Writing Buddies are a busy group of diverse talents.

The Writing Buddies would like to thank the staff at the Central Library for stepping in to provide us with a home at short notice. It is appreciated.

Watch this space for details of the next meeting, in January 2010.

The photo shows Jimmy Marsh, Nicola Guy and Peter Farr.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Writing Buddies is Moving!

Following on from the announcement that Borders is closing down, I have looked for a new venue for the meeting scheduled for Friday 4th December.

I am pleased to announce that the meeting will take place at 2.30 at the central library, behind Southampton town hall (look for the clock tower if you are coming from out of town).

There is a coffee shop, so please pick up your cuppa and then go into the library and look for the help point (on the right as you walk through the main entrance doors. The word HELP is printed on the wall). Let the staff know you are there for the Writing Buddies meeting and they will direct you to the conference room.

Our guest will be Nicola Guy, commissioning editor for The History Press.

The Writing Buddies would like to thank publicly the staff at the Southampton branch of Borders for their hospitality over the months since we started meeting there. It is such a shame that the shop is closing. We hope that everyone will find new jobs soon.

If you have any queries about the arrangements for Friday 4th December, please email Penny on The meetings are free and are open to anyone with an interest in writing.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Peter Lovesey at Writing Buddies

The Writing Buddies meeting on Friday 20th November was a well attended affair, when the Buddies welcomed crime writer Peter Lovesey to share coffee and chat at Borders bookshop. We also said 'Hello' to several writers who joined us for the first time.

Fiona had sent off a manuscript for the Harry Bowling Prize, had enrolled on three courses at West Dean College in Chichester and had been approached about speaking at school on her writing experiences.

Glen has seen her script rejected by the BBC and is currently working on amateur dramatics in the community.

New Writing Buddy Diana turned to writing after ill health forced her into early retirement. She has had numerous letters, articles and a biography published and is working on her first novel, which is currently under consideration with an agent. She is a graduate of the London School of Journalism.

Mo is busy writing articles for magazines and newspapers.

Dee had come straight from Waterstones, where she had been stock signing.

Tessa is looking for an editor for her second book. She is busy designing a bookmark for Writers In Southampton, who are holding their next meeting on 3rd December in Portswood.

Ex-teacher, Peter Lovesey, took up writing in 1975 and, as he put it, 'does enough to keep going and make a living.' Peter's overseas sales help considerably to making writing a worth while proposition for him. He is currently writing book number 32.

Jimmy is busy writing a sci-fi novel and has just started a war in the future!

Patsy reported that her proofs have come through from the publisher and she really must check them. Life is hectic though and finding time is difficult.

Pam has been involved recently with the Poetry Trust.

Poet Peter is looking to publish a series of poems he wrote some years ago. He has been going to open mic events and will be in Swindon at the White Hart soon.

There was a discussion of various open mic sessions and their value. Mo revealed she is also a performance poet. The sessions run by Rob Richardson at Rosie's Wine Bar in Portsmouth were mentioned.

Barbara is still writing her diary, into its 40th year. She has been busy preparing a workshop for the Southampton Writer's Circle, and writing her pages for the Church magazine.

Chris, another new member, writes short stories and has an idea for a novel, which she is working on. She has previously published a book on child and adolescent mental health, which is in its second edition. She was a social worker and family therapist.

Penny had been interviewed on Express FM and the interview would be broadcast on 1st December. She is coming to the end of writing her book, Folklore of Hampshire.

Peter Lovesey outlined his approach to writing. He said he takes about six weeks to produce a detailed synopsis and then writes the book. There are no drafts although he acknowledged that sometimes the characters get larger as they evolve. 'It's exciting when it happens,' he said. For Peter the synopsis is the most creative part of the whole writing process.

Dee said that her synopsis is usually a paragraph long. She commented that she is expected to produce a book set within the period 1900 - 1960, which encompasses 2 World Wars and a depression, so she has lots of scope. She writes in chapters, and prints off each with the date as she goes. She stressed the importance of getting the period right.

The group discussed the importance or otherwise of character names. Peter L said that he looked at the surnames of a cricket team 100 years ago and chose names from that. It was pointed out that a common name was a good thing, as readers could identify with the character.

The question of celebrity writers was discussed at length, particularly in light of Lynda La Plante's comments at the Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards Ceremony a short time ago. She urged publishers and agents to turn back towards the ordinary everyday writers and to ditch the 'celebrity writer' who did not write their own book. It was generally acknowledged that Katie Price's book was dumbed down. Ghost writing gigs can often be lucrative though it was commented.

The question of whether Carole Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage were blanked by the BBC was discussed. They had been billed to appear on Late Night Review and at the last moment it was announced that they would not appear. Several of the Writing Buddies felt that there was some kind of conspiracy going on behind the scenes and speculation was rife as to what this could be.

It was commented that rhyming poetry was on its way back and it was cool for boys to write poetry again, particularly if was then used as a rap, to music. It was noted that the Birmingham Poetry Slam evolved out of rapping.

Both Fiona and Peter F were congratulated on their recent success as they had been elected to membership of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists.

In all it was a lively meeting. The next meeting will take place on Friday 4th December. In light of the problems Borders are currently experiencing, the venue will be announced shortly. Nicola Guy, commissioning editor at The History Press will be our guest at this meeting.

If you are interested in joining us at the next meeting, please email Penny on for the latest information.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Writing Buddies Carries On!

After last meeting, when the tables on the Borders shop floor were in use and there was nowhere for the Writing Buddies to go apart from in the noisy coffee shop, I am pleased to report that this time we had a spot back in the relative peace and quiet of the shop itself.

Nine Buddies turned up and it was good to meet two new additions to the group.

Jimmy, as usual, has been very busy. He has sent off competition entries to Legend Press, Bridge House, McKitterick, the BBC My Story Competition and the Southampton Writers' Circle and now had his fingers crossed as he waits for the results. In the meantime he is writing chapter 11 of his latest book, a sci-fi/fantasy and is editing the first three chapters of his first Davy Collins novel so that it can be sent out to a publisher.

Richard has not been writing recently but was happy to join in the group again as he can only come along every so often.

Tessa has been busy editing her second novel.

Donna reported more success, this time with the Poets of Africa Institute. She is now working on a collection of short stories, to be illustrated by her husband. She has tried her hand at the Hythe writing group 250 word exercise, which was challenging.

The Writing Buddies welcomed Jenna, who writes fantasy fiction and James, who wants to write scientific articles or crime stories.

Patsy is busy editing her latest book on dog training. This will be her fourth book. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association new writers scheme and has submitted twenty thousand words to them for appraisal. She is waiting for feedback. In the meantime she is studying with Sophie King through Writers' News and is a member of the Chandlers Ford Writers' Group.

Barbara had been six days with out a computer thanks to a hard drive failure. This had caused a lot of stress and we all noted how our lives have changed since the advent of the home computer.

Penny went to Manchester to meet other tutors at the Writers' Bureau head office. It was an interesting insight into the college and a chance for her to meet some of the other tutors. In the meantime, she is busy finishing her book, Folklore of Hampshire, which has to be at the publisher soon. She has been asked to appear on the radio, on Rob Richardson's show on Express FM on Wednesday 18th November, which she is looking forward to. She is busy trying to think of suitable music for the show.

Peter and Jacque R both sent regrets as they were sick. Philippa was swamped with work, as was Dee. They all said 'Hi' and hoped to be along to the next meeting.

The discussions this meeting were as varied as usual. The question of e-books and the Kindle book reader came up again. It was noted that the e-book readers were getting better in terms of quality and the price had come down considerably. It was felt that the chief advantage to having one was when travelling, when instead of dragging a heavy book around you could have a whole library in one lightweight unit.

The Writing Buddies were interested in proof reading and copyediting courses and Penny noted that she had just been sent the latest such course offered by the Writers Bureau, with a view to tutoring that course in addition to the non-fiction courses she currently covers. The merits of learning about proof reading were discussed and it was felt that this was a vital skill for any writer.

The merits of the new Windows 7 as compared to Vista were also discussed. Some of the group had already made the jump, whilst others were waiting to see what bugs there were to be ironed out first.

Richard had brought along an advertising piece from a publishing agent and the group talked about such advertising and the merits of agents looking for writers in this manner. It was felt that companies have to start somewhere but it was wise to research what they were offering before plunging in.

In all it was another information and advice packed session.

If you fancy coming along and joining in you are most welcome. The next meeting is on Friday 20th November when we will be welcoming crime writer Peter Lovesey to the coffee table. The meeting is at 2pm in the Borders bookshop in Southampton.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Writing Buddies Correction

Philippa Lawrence has emailed the following correction to the last post:

Writing Your Self
is due out next month sometime and Myra will let me know about it. Their previous book, excellent, which I have, is Writing for Self-Discovery, ISBN 9 781843 330455, £8.99 Vega 1998, 2002, (Element Books 1998), and How To be Well Versed in Poetry, Edited by E O Parrott, Penquin 1991 (Viking 1990) ISBN 0-14-011275-8. £5.99 - out of print but available on Amazon for £1 or so. It's a brilliant demonstration of different poetry forms through parody - the best I've met.

Many thanks, Philippa.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Writing Buddies on 23rd October 2009

Thanks to Jacqueline Pye for writing up the meeting on the 23rd October:

The group were moved this week to a corner of the Starbucks coffee shop in Borders, where we’ll probably be found each time until after Christmas. Apologies received from Penny Legg who was at a meeting up north; Pam presided for us.

Peter, a new member, has been writing a good deal of poetry, but has not yet submitted it for publication. He is considering various options including self publishing, and plans to join a group in Bournemouth. Other members recommended the groups Flair for Words and New Forest Poets.

Jimmy has been to the Bournemouth Literary Festival – he picked up some good tips and advice. The first part of one of his novels is almost ready to submit, and he is also well into work on a sci fi novel.

Glen has been tidying up her office! She mentioned that the BBC short story unit has changed its system; from now until the end of November only, they will consider short stories from new writers – info available from the BBC website.

Patsy is currently working on the proofs of her latest book on dog training, and also writing another. She is keen to write fiction, and is currently studying on two courses to this end.

Fiona J belongs to Wyvern Writers, who meet on the second Friday of each month (see below). She writes training materials professionally, but also poetry and various types of fiction for her own interest. She recently had a poem published in one South African magazine as well as a short story in another – there are plans to make her short story into a film in S Africa – the group was impressed, and we congratulated Fiona on her success.

Phillippa has been promoting her latest book of poetry since our last meeting. She recommended to the group the book “Writing Your Self” by Maria Schneider and John Killick.

Fiona van der S has now completed 10,000 words of her novel, though she finds the work will need adapting if she is to submit for the Harry Bowling prize – apparently it needs more romance! She has formally applied to join SWWJ.

Donna has written more poetry since last time, and is working on refining it – it sounds as though she is a natural.

Pam has returned to working on her novel, taking into account some advice given earlier. She mentioned that a short story for children written in the past was described by a critic as being more an adult book, and she was uncertain which way to jump on this. Other members of the group identified with this problem and we discussed it for a while.

Jacqueline has now written up the plot for her children’s detective story, with chapter-by-chapter detail.

Other points and recommendations which came up include:
• novelist Alan Tate is running a workshop for Wyvern Writers at Chandlers Ford library on Nov 13th -
details of content from

• fiction guidelines for The Lady were circulated, and can be requested from – note
they require submissions on CD

• Pam’s ‘slim volume’ of poetry was printed for her by Louis Ross in Totton quite reasonably. Info from

• Motivation Reaction Units were mentioned as a source of inspiration for fiction – Google has various

• some writers have found that pitching their work directly to celebrities or their agents was often
effective, bypassing the ‘doorman’ and leading to acceptance or at least further useful contacts. We
also discussed the usefulness of creating a monologue by our fictional character to flesh it out

• the 2010 Hampshire Poet competition is running until December 11th – two poems to be submitted,
with a personal statement – prize is four paid commissions with local relevance. Applies to those
living, working or studying in a Hampshire CC governed area (likely to exclude So’ton and Pompey).
Info from and click on Hampshire Poet 2010.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Southampton Library Reading Groups

Richard Ashman has been in touch with a link to the reading groups he runs. Please click here for more details.

Writing Buddies welcomes Richard Ashman

A record number of Writing Buddies turned up at Borders in Southampton to welcome Richard Ashman, the Manager of the huge Central Library in the City.

Richard was able to give us an insight into the library's policy on buying library books as the library 'tries to have a representative collection'. Several of our members were somewhat shocked by the news that readers do not often borrow books of poetry from the library. Richard also told the group about the changes to the library service that new technology has brought. Many people now research online and only come to the librarian when they need expert advice. Richard also told the group about the reading groups he runs.

The group had a lively discussion on the topic, 'What is the essence of a good story'. Opinion was divided and this could be revisited on a later occasion. The importance of taking criticism on the chin also set heads nodding amongst the group.

Fiona had taken advice given at the last Writing Buddies meeting and ordered some business cards. She has now written the first 9,000 words of her novel and said that she had been 'inspired' by the Writing Buddies group. 'I'm on a roll,' she said. She attended the latest meeting of Writers in Southampton.

Ash too was inspired by the previous Writing Buddies meeting and is now working on a marketing idea based on his work. He has signed up for workshops at Guildford Literary Festival.

Jimmy has had positive feedback about one of his Sundance Gang books, which he was pleased about. He is now busy polishing a sci-fi story.

Pam has written two poems recently and presented them to friends. She has also been in discussion with the owner of the holistic centre in the New Forest about the Day for Writers there to be held in June.

Tessa is busy editing the second book of her trilogy and writing the third one.

Richard said that apart from writing angry letters to his MP he has not written anything recently. He has decided to join The Plaza Theatre in Romsey, as they need volunteers.

The Writing Buddies welcomed Glen, who came along for the first time. Glen says she 'will have go at anything', which is just what the Writing Buddies like to hear! She is waiting to hear if her poems will be in a Portsmouth anthology and is currently re-writing a stage play following advice from Stella Duffy.

Donna has decided that Fiona's tip from last meeting, that of gardening to gather your thoughts together, is for her, much to her garden's appreciation. She has had her first poem published and this has spurred her on to write more. She has also now launched her own blog.

The Writing Buddies also welcomed Philippa Lawrence to the coffee table. Philippa is a poet and a member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Her latest work, From Memory's Wardrobe has just been published. She told the group that she found taking to free verse 'difficult, but I think I've got it now.'

Jacqueline P told us of her new idea to gain inspiration for her work. She chose a novel and then particular page numbers, line numbers and word numbers. This led to a list of words which she used towards a short story. She is currently working on this. She is also thinking about writing a pantomime.

Jacqueline R told the group that she has enjoyed her second visit to the Southampton Writers' Circle. She had enjoyed the writing exercises there at the first visit. The Greensleeves short story competition is coming up and that she said was to her a 'scary zone'. The Writing Buddies wished her luck and await reading some of her work on the group's email loop.

Barbara had been writing her diary, as she has been doing for more than forty years. As Secretary of the Southampton Writers' Circle she has been involved in setting up the Greensleeves competition.

Penny has been working on her Folklore of Hampshire book, she won the Scroll Award at the Southampton Writers' Circle and is working on the next edition of The Woman Writer magazine for The Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She gave a talk to the Society's Hants/Wilts/Dorset regional meeting on digital photography and journalism. She is about to chair a Panel Discussion on getting into print at the Bournemouth Literary Festival.

In all, it was an action packed meeting! The Writing Buddies send their thanks to Richard Ashman for taking time out of his busy schedule to come along and join in the writing talk.

I (Penny) was touched when Jacqueline P gave a vote of thanks to me, on behalf of the group, for my work with the Writing Buddies. She made me promise to minute this on the blog, so I am being good and doing as I was told! Thank you, Jacqueline.

As an aside from the above meeting notes, I think that the way this group is blossoming is marvellous. When I started the group, with Pam's valuable assistance, I had little thought of the long term effects it would have on those who came along. I hoped they would see some benefit, even if it was just to get them away from the computer for a while and actually talk to other writers, rather than sit in a lonely garret. What has come of it is far more. Beginner writers have gained confidence in their ability to write, writers are trying new genres and widening their horizons, the meetings are acting as a stimulus to producing work to tell the group about, we have pooled our experience to help those with problems, we have shared successes, made new friends and realised that there is life out there beyond the garret! We have attracted professional writers who have shared tips and inspired us and our guests have completed the picture, with advice and insider knowledge that has been invaluable. I can only say a big 'Thank You!' to all those who have come to the Writing Buddies meetings and made all of this possible. Long may it continue!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Writing Buddies - Donna Steward

Donna Steward is an excited lady these days. A few weeks ago she came along to Writing Buddies for the first time and announced that she had decided to start writing. At that time she did not know what she wanted to write about, or if she had any writing ability when she did find a subject. Watching Donna blossom into a poet of ability has been a joy the Writing Buddies have shared over the weeks.

Yesterday Donna sent the following very excited email:

'My poem is in the October issue - Inspire page - of SA Promo and the editor used a great photo which, I think, is relevant.
As for the Poets of Africa, it's also on that site now. I have also started my own blog and believe it or not, cannot think of anything to add, including gadgets etc. This blogging business is confusing to me, but I'll get there.
And on that note, I wouldn't be at this stage if not for you and the group, so THANK YOU.'

Donna's poem is on page 77 of SA Promo. Her blog is up and running and, hopefully, being a published poet will inspire her to write something about how she feels at having taken this big step into a new chapter in her life.

Congratulations Donna, from all the Writing Buddies.

If you fancy coming along to join in the fun and chat at the coffee table, the next meeting of the Writing Buddies is on Friday 9th October at 2 o'clock at the Borders bookshop, Southampton.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Writing Buddies - four new members!

The Writing Buddies were delighted to welcome four new members to the coffee table on the 25th September. It was good to see so many new faces.

Writing Buddies are an industrious lot. Donna is over the moon that her poem is to be published on the Poets of Africa website as well as SF Magazine. She now has to come to grips with the technology that will enable her to download her work to the net. The step to becoming a published writer is an exciting one and Donna is slightly apprehensive, but determined! Good luck, Donna.

Jimmy has decided to make his pen name James, as he has discovered that there is an American Rap Artist by the same name. He is about to launch his own website and does not want to be confused with the singer. He is also busy working on short stories, fifteen in the last three weeks, and what was to have been a longer short story, has now become his next book. He is currently writing it as The Far End of the Tunnel a sci-fi/fantasy story.

Tessa hopes the second part of her trilogy, Hobgoblin Gold , will be out soon. She has also submitted a short story, Luxorious Odyssey, to Legend Press. This is a tale based on an Egyptian holiday and is meant for older women's interest.

Fiona's screenplay is being re-written into a political thriller but Fiona has found that the research for the book, set between 1997 and 2007, can take over her writing time. Her neighbours are benefiting from her work, as she has discovered that she gets her best ideas when she is gardening! The Writing Buddies have said that they will draw up a list of those needing a gardener if Fiona runs out of neighbours! Since the last meeting she has written her first two thousand words and has found the BBC's broadcasts of previously un-aired Agatha Christie interviews, in which the great crime writer is revealed as having to write on the kitchen table just like many other writers, a great inspiration. Fiona has also applied to be a full member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and the Writing Buddies wish her well with this application.

Newcomer Ash is busy working on script writing for television. He has written a two part story for Dr Who and is busy creating a new show. He also writes short stories which he hopes to expand to novel length. Ash has just joined the Southampton Writers' Circle.

Our second new member, Jacque, has been working on a novel for the last seven years, following a series of dreams which haunt her even today. She believes that 'we have to have belief in ourselves as writers' and the Writing Buddies agree. Her novel has grown and is in two parts. She has not had the confidence to show it to anyone but hopes that this will change since her decision to join the Southampton Writers' Circle and Writing Buddies. Jacque is currently looking for work in the area and the Writing Buddies wish her well with this.

Sabrina has attended the Southampton University Literary Festival, which featured publisher, MacMillan and agent, Geraldine Cook. Sabrina is working on a fantasy novel but has recently discovered just how difficult writing a short story can be.

Jacqueline has been super busy! She has submitted some pieces on the Second World War with photos to the Daily Echo but there has been no reply. She has filed all her rejected and accepted work away and has decided to rework her radio story, originally broadcast when it won 2nd prize in the South Coast Radio Solent Awards. She now considers it old fashioned and is going to make the central character more sympathetic. She is going to re-write her novel, originally written as part of a Writers' News course. Jacqueline also told the group of the value of listening to people's life stories. They can be the basis of many ideas for written work.

Pamela, our third new writer, used to work for a radio station in Uganda and is currently looking for writing work in England. She told us a little of her journalistic life and the stories she covered. She is currently writing the biography of a nun in 1970s Uganda who was the head of a boarding school where Amin's children studied. She showed no favouritism, which was a courageous thing to do at the time. The Writing Buddies wish her every success with this project and her quest for writing work.

Penny has been busy working looking through archive photographs for suitable shots for her books. She has interviewed the Bagman of the Winchester Morris Men and the historian at the Winchester Theatre Royal. She has been asked to chair a panel discussion at the Bournemouth Literary Festival in October and gave a talk on digital photography and journalism for the Hants/Wilts/Dorset region of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She has also won the Southampton Writers' Circle Scroll Award for Best Writing 2008/9.

Lynn came shopping to Borders and heard some of our discussion. The Writing Buddies were pleased when she came over and joined us. We look forward to seeing her again next meeting.

The Writing Buddies helped Jimmy understand the submission guidelines for a short story he wished to send out. E-readers and their benefits once more featured in the chat, as did a warning about Raider Publishers, which will charge to publish work. Marketing featured strongly in discussion and various ways of marketing work were discussed. It was recommended that writers have business cards with them at all times and a web presence is essential. Ash wondered if an anthology is a good way to showcase the range of work a writer can produce, but this was generally considered to work best for those with well known names.

Tessa reminded the Writing Buddies that Writers In Southampton would meet on Thursday 1st October at the Richmond Inn in Portswood, Guests £3 or £10 for a yearly ticket.

In all it was an action packed meeting, with many of the writers present having much to say. This is just what Writing Buddies is all about! If you would like to join us, our next meeting is on Friday 9th October at the Borders Bookshop in Southampton. We look forward to welcoming you.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Writing Buddies, a senior moment

As readers of this blog will know, I usually write up the meetings for those interested in the Writing Buddies chat. The meeting on 11th September is conspicuous by its absence.

Sadly, in a senior moment, I sent my notebook to join my beloved little point and shoot camera and have been searching for them both for some time. I write this then as a recollection of the meeting, rather than as fact. I hope no one minds and I hope I don't get too much wrong!

We welcomed Fiona Vandersluys to our midst, on a day when we had a lower turn out due to illness. Fiona has been writing for business publications and is now working on a novel.

Richard came along and showed us some examples of the framed poetry he has produced, which has sold well in the past.

Jimmy has been busy with short stories and has had non-fiction work accepted by Best of British magazine. This is his first attempt at article writing. Well done, Jimmy.

Donna is looking forward to writing for SF Magazine and busy bee Jacqueline is working on her anthology of short stories and her detective stories, both for children.

Tessa is working on the next books of her trilogy, following the success of the launch of The Dohlen Inheritance, the first book in the series, earlier this year.

I have been busy working in Cornwall for Cornwall Today and This England magazines. She has also spent a lot of time at the Winchester Records Office seeking possible images for her books. After the meeting I was off to the Southampton Old Green Bowling Club to photograph the investiture of the newest Knight of the Old Green, the winner of the recent Knighthood Competition, held there annually for more than 200 years.

The next meeting is on Friday 25th September at Borders bookshop in Southampton at 2 pm. I will have a new notebook by then!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Writing Buddies - another successful meeting!

The Writing Buddies meeting on Friday 28th August was another successful one. We welcomed Tracy to our midst and the chat around the table ranged from the merits of Open Office free software to the possibility of internet theft of published work and the value of Writers' News magazine in keeping up to date with changes in the publishing world.

Mo had been busy writing articles and has engaged a coach to work with her on editing her second novel, to be published by PaperBack next year. Together they are writing an article on coaching.

Tessa bemoaned the fact that she had loved writing The Dohlen Inheritance, but cannot be enthusiastic about selling it. The second part of the trilogy is with a copy editor and she is busy writing the final part.

Barbara has been busy on the Southampton Writers' Circle agenda for the 2009/2010 season and has entered her award winning story, The Spiral for another competition, after editing it following advice from tutors at Lit Up! earlier in the summer.

Patricia brought along her first Maths Trail, set in Watts Park in Southampton. She is now thinking of writing an article on her experiences writing this trail and the rest in the series, for The Times Educational Supplement.

Sabrina, fresh from an exciting trip to Italy, is busy juggling plots and working on her university dissertation.

Donna has had a letter accepted by SF Promo magazine and is considering offering this publication her new poem.

Jimmy is re-writing his Sundance Gang books and has taken to short story writing. He has just entered a Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) competition and has had an article accepted by Best of British magazine.

Tracy is busy working on her Masters degree, studying with the Open University. She has not written for several years but wishes to ease her way back into the writing world. Writing Buddies welcomed her.

The next meeting of Writing Buddies is on Friday 11th September, at 2pm at the Borders Bookshop in Southampton. Everyone is welcome!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Writing Buddies - Reaction and Photos

There has been some reaction to my earlier posts, which is great.

Simon Whaley emailed me to say:

'Blimey - you did see a lot of new faces. That's all good stuff.
And Yes, Lynne Hackles book is excellent, but then, I'm quoted in it, so I'm biased!
Hope Jimmy gets on okay with his proposal for Best of British.'

Simon joined us for coffee and chat recently and has been keeping up with the Writing Buddies.

Richard Early, a writer who came along to Writing Buddies for the first time last meeting, has sent in some off the cuff photographs. Thanks, Rich. Sadly, I often seem to have my mouth open when there is a photographer about!

By the way, if anyone knows what to do about a font that WILL NOT go black, despite my best efforts, I would like to know! Thanks.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Writing Buddies - Motivation

This has come in via email from one of the Writing Buddies, Barbara Jackson. Barbara is secretary of the Southampton Writers' Circle.

'I find the great advantage of 'Writing Buddies' is that it encourages you to 'get writing' and feel guilty if you have not sent anything for publication, therefore it urges you to 'get on with it' and to quote Janie (Jackson, another Writing Buddy), 'All writers are friends'.'

This is something I had not counted on when I was setting up Writing Buddies. One of the comments on Friday was that it had been a motivator for writing activity, so that writers had something to tell the rest when they met. This is an unforeseen benefit of the group. I had not realised that writers would feel this way and, I have to say, I think it is great! That writers feel that they wish to come as often as they can, and that they make an effort to work on something so that they can discuss it and can contribute to the chat, shows commitment to Writing Buddies.

The next meeting will be on Friday 28th August, at Borders, Southampton, 2pm. The Writing Buddies look forward to chatting with you!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Writing Buddies, lots of new faces!

The latest meeting of Writing Buddies, on Friday 14th August at the Borders Bookshop in Southampton, was characterised by the number of new faces joining the chat and coffee sipping. This, during the height of the summer holiday season, was a real surprise. It was great to see so many around the table.

The new Borders Deputy Manager, Caragh Waite, has taken over from Simon Collins. She came along and introduced herself, which was great. Our meetings at Borders have been characterised by the helpfulness and friendliness of its staff and this is one big plus for our meeting here.

We welcomed Rob Richardson from Portsmouth, who is a writer, musician, the organiser of Write on the Night, WriteInvite and Write on Site as well as evenings for writers at Rosies wine bar in Southsea. He also hosts a spot for writers about writers on Express FM (93.7FM). He told the group about how his writing competitions work and how popular the evenings were at Rosies.

Catherine King, best selling novelist from Fareham, came along too. She has been interviewed by Rob on his programme. She told the group about how she got into serious writing five years ago, after over twenty years of writing and holding down a 'proper' job. Now she has three best selling novels out, with the fourth coming soon. She brought along the proposed cover for her fourth novel and the group were struck by how well illustrated it, and her other book covers, were. She tries to write one book a year and has a systematic approach to writing. She lectures at the Winchester Writers Conference and will be at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick in September. She stresses that to be a success at writing novels a writer needs to be business-like about it.

Pam has decided to give herself a one month respite from writing or sending out work after receiving a short story rejection. She has lots of work under consideration but is a bit depressed by the whole business at present. All Writing Buddies wish her well and hope that she is able to feel better about her writing soon.

Newcomer Patricia, whose English with a delightful French accent was miles better than all of our French put together, is a maths teacher who is writing a Maths Trail around Southampton. She hopes to get inspiration and advice from those around the coffee table.

Jimmy has been busy. Best of British magazine has asked to see a synopsis of an article idea he has had and he has decided that he will take some of the funny stories from his Davey Collins Gang books, children's books for adults, and re-write them for children. He has enlisted the help of the librarians at the Southampton library and is shortly to visit there to look at children's literature, to get a feel for the way this genre is written.

Cass has abandoned his novel after 120, 000 words. He was struggling with time lines and viewpoint and had asked for advice at one of the early Writing Buddies meetings. He is now on a second draft of a book for twelve year olds set in the future.

Janie has had a lot of problems at home to sort out and has been helping husband Cass with his novel. She is therefore running late with Flair News, the publication for members of Flair for Words and her tutoring services. She hopes to catch up with both in the near future.

Another new face, Richard, has been writing as a freelance journalist and poet for twenty five years. He moved from Cambridge to the New Forest via a long stint living in a motorhome, which experience the Writing Buddies think should be written up into a book for everyone to enjoy. He 'went commercial' while in Cambridge, writing, printing, framing and selling poems. As he explained, 'People put their money where their mouth is. If they liked the poem, they bought it.' He has joined the Writing Buddies looking for stimulus. He is a member of the U3A in Totton and has tried to start a writers' circle locally, without success. He was formally a member of The Mad Writers in Cambridge.

Donna has now written several poems and a short story. She has also contacted South African magazine, Promo, which is looking for writers, and has offered her services. The Writing Buddies hope that she is successful.

Barbara has made some changes to her award winning short story, 'The Spiral', with a view to submitting it for publication. She still continues to write her diary every day, which she has been doing for over forty years.

Feature writer and member of The Society of Authors, Jackie, has been re-working the short story she wrote for the Winchester Story Slam, for submission to a ladies fiction magazine. She is continuing to submit work and her children's writing is ongoing.

Penny has been offered a tutoring position with the Writers Bureau and had just received her first batch of students' work on the day of the meeting. Janie, who also tutors for the same distance learning organisation, wished her luck with the new challenge. Penny has also been offered her fourth book contract with The History Press, a photographic 'then and now' book in colour, of the city of Southampton. She is looking forward to going to Cornwall to interview the owners of a 'living collection' of war memorabilia for a magazine. She has been busy working on the next edition of The Woman Writer for the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ).

The talk about the table ranged, as usual, from one point of the compass to the opposite. The merits, or otherwise, of some distance learning courses were discussed, with the consensus of opinion being that the Writers Bureau offered one of the best products on the market in terms of honesty of feedback and the amount of assistance given. Rob gave us an insight into the intricacies of putting together the entries for the readings at Rosies on the first Monday in each month, when ten writers read their work for adjudication by their peers. Pam gave details of the proposed visit to the Astara Centre next year, when a Day for Writers will be run in the tranquility of the New Forest surroundings. The book, Writing From Life, by Lynne Hackles was recommended as useful reading and the use of language, and its deterioration, was once again brought up. The advantages of using Googlemail and sex and violence in stories rounded up a good and varied exchange.

The next meeting is on Friday 28th August at 2pm at Borders Bookshop in Southampton. The Writing Buddies look forward to welcoming you.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Writing Buddies - Rob Richardson, our next guest

The Writing Buddies are looking forward to welcoming Portsmouth based, Rob Richardson, Express FM host and founder of WriteInvite, to the next coffee and chat session at Borders, on Friday 14th August.

If you are in Southampton at about 2 o'clock, please pull up a chair and join us. We never know what we will be chatting about and half the fun is in finding out!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Writing Buddies - the latest

Friday 31st July saw the smallest group of Writing Buddies so far, as school holidays, illness, grandchildren and non-arriving carpet cleaners played their part in keeping Buddies away. However, the seven of us who assembled for coffee and chat sure had a lot to talk about!

Simon Collins, the outgoing Deputy Manager at Borders Southampton, joined us for a brief peep into the world of book selling. He revealed that Borders, since the management buyout earlier in July, is about to enter the world of publishing. This was exciting news to a group of writers! Simon talked about the best place in the store to display books, and there was a spirited discussion of the future of e-books. He noted the growth in popularity of the 'paranormal romance,' and mentioned that at Christmas nostalgia books sell well.

Simon is leaving Borders after nine years to go into business with his father. The Writing Buddies wish him well and will keep in touch with him in the future.

Dee Williams noted that Catherine Cookson has been ousted from the top of the Public Library Lending Lists by children's writer, Jacqueline Wilson. She had been to a book signing with Jacqueline and realised how good she is with children. Understanding and bonding with the reader is all important.

Donna has written a poem and joined a new writers' group, in Hythe at the Chapter One bookshop. Readers of this blog may remember that Donna joined the group a few weeks ago not knowing what she wanted to write about. Now she has had her first experience of being given a writing task at a Writers' Circle and loved every minute!

Elizabeth has shelved her ideas of sending off Christmas stories as family life has intervened. Now she is editing her past, unpublished work and looking for markets for them.

Jimmy has withdrawn his novels from and is re-writing them as he feels they are not good enough for publication. His son is his sternest critic and tells him when things are incorrect. In the meantime, he has attended his first function as a new Associate Member of the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ). He joined several other members in the South of England at a lunch in Haywards Heath. As a result of a chat he had on the way there, he is now writing his first short story, about a middle aged man in prison looking back on his wasted life. The Writing Buddies wish him well with this enterprise.

Jackie joined us again and told us about the Slam event she attended in Winchester. She was well received but was a little disconcerted to find that the winner was the person who worked for Hants County Council (which put on the event) and who had spread her leaflets and cd on to every table in the room. She wondered if there had been a level playing field. However, she had received praise from the winner and it had been good experience. She is working on a series of children's novels about a child detective and is thinking of a compendium of stories for children.

Dee Williams is working on her twentieth novel. She made the group laugh with her tales of growing up in the 'means test' culture. The 'means test' man would come and assess the worth of items in the house, to see if they could be sold before any benefits would be paid to the poor householder. The family piano, a major asset to every home, would regularly be seen trundling up and down the road as it was moved out of the house so as not to be assessed as having to be sold.

Pam is at a standstill with her work. She is editing a manuscript for a friend but still trying to find a publisher for three novels and three short stories. She wants to put together a nostalgia book about funny stories of childhood in WW2.

I have been working on photography recently. I have posted photographs for quality checking with a stock photo site and am awaiting a reply. I have put together a series of high resolution shots for a magazine, to illustrate an article I wrote and which they are running in the Autumn. (More on this when it appears.) I have also been working on my book, Folklore of Hampshire. I have just edited another edition of The Woman Writer for the SWWJ. This magazine is available for purchase by clicking here and following the link. I am also being featured in Writers' News in November.

We discussed a trip to the Astara Centre in the New Forest. We are thinking of offering a holistic trip there to try to gain inspiration/aid research. More on this in due course.

We discussed erotica and whether sex is essential to a plot. We felt that Ken Follett was guilty of throwing in gratuitous sex just to sell his books. We looked briefly at his 1992 novel, 'Night Over Water,' which is about a thirty hour flight from the UK to America on the eve of WW2. It was felt that of the two graphic sex scenes in this book, the second was thrown in merely to titillate and did not take the plot forward. This led to a discussion of the news that Virgin Books' two erotica imprints, Black Lace and Nexus, are to suspend their 2010 lists and the news that Mills and Boon are to offer their books on mobile phones.

Added to all of this were discussions on book exchanges and book festivals in Spain, Oxfam being the biggest second hand book dealer in the country, badly written books and the value of completing BBC quizzes on the internet at The Writers Room. In all, the meeting lasted over three hours and was characterised by its liveliness!

The next meeting is on Friday 14th August, at 2pm, at the Borders bookshop, Southampton. Come and join us.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Writing Buddies still at Borders

The Writing Buddies were a little concerned to hear of recent events in the business world as Borders has just sold off its flagship shop in London and several of its other premier stores. As readers of this blog will know, Penny Legg's Writing Buddies started meeting at the Southampton branch on 22 May 2009 and we are still spreading the word of our existence. To be obliged to move now would be a bit of a blow.

I spoke to the deputy manager of the Southampton store, Simon Collins, who reassured me that all was well, as the company has been subject to a management buyout. This news will be published in The Bookseller this week, but is already online. Hopefully, this will mean that Borders and its staff will be around for a long time to come. In these difficult economic times, this is good news.

We welcomed feature writer, Jaqueline Pye, who joined a slightly smaller group of Writing Buddies to usual this week. It is holiday and illness season and so there were 11 writers at the meeting.

Pam Whittington told us of her success in Hythe at the Poetry Trust competition and Robin Dynes has started writing for a health e-zine. Jimmy Marsh has been elected to join The Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) as an Associate Member.

Several of the Writing Buddies were at the Lit Up! literary festival near Poole and this was discussed at length, as there were both delegates and organisers at the coffee table. The Oxfam bookshops event in Southampton, to bring local writers to the attention of local people was a huge success and will be repeated at least two or three times a year. The Writers in Southampton (WiS) meeting with Daniel Clay was very successful and those who attended were amazed at Daniel's tenacity in staying with his book for the twenty years it took to get it published.

The possibility of going to the Ashtara Awareness Centre for a day of holistic peace and quiet for writers was put forward and several of the Writing Buddies were in favour of finding out more about this. Pam Whittington will take this forward.

It was noted that the Hythe bookshop, Chapter One, is under new management.

We discussed the Winchester Story Slam, which takes place on 29th July. Jacqueline is going to take part and we wished her well. Some of the Writing Buddies offered advice as they have taken part in this kind of event before, where writers have to produce a piece of work of about five minutes to read to their peers and be judged on the spot for a cash prize.

I told the meeting about my trip to the British Library to research ghostly happenings in Hampshire for my forthcoming books, Folklore of Hampshire and Haunted Southampton. Several Writing Buddies offered advice on where to look for photographs and further information. I am currently looking for old photographs of Southampton (preferably out of copyright, but this is not essential) and if anyone reading this can help I would like to hear from them, through this blog.

Julie Musk, founder of the Roving Press, is to join us as a guest on Friday 28th August. On Friday 23rd October we will welcome Nicola Guy, Commissioning Editor for local history at The History Press and on 20th November, Dagger Award winning crime writer, Peter Lovesey, will be sipping coffee with us.

So, what are you waiting for? If you have an interest in writing please feel free to come along, pick up a coffee and pull up a chair. You will be very welcome. Our next meeting is on Friday 31st July at 2pm. We meet upstairs in the Borders bookshop in the West Quay complex in Southampton.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Writing Buddies at Lit Up!

The Lit Up! literary event, held at Uplands Country Park in the beautiful walled garden, was the first event that several of Penny Legg's Writing Buddies have been involved with.

The event, to develop writers and literature in Bournemouth and Poole, was compared by Robin Dynes (second left) and he and his wife, fellow Writing Buddy and writer, Barbara Dynes (extreme right), together with another Writing Buddy, writer and tutor, Janie Jackson (in purple), gave manuscript advice and feedback to many of the writers who braved the awful weather to attend the event.

Barbara Jackson (extreme left), Jimmy Marsh (second right), Cass Jackson (third left) and I
attended as delegates. We were treated (and yes, it was a treat) to a seminar on leading writing workshops, by Lucy Clarke. Agent, Carol Blake (pictured book signing for Jimmy Marsh), let us inside her incredibly busy world for a short while and Dagger Award winning author, Peter Lovesey, told us about the art of crime writing.

Several members of the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) attended and much networking went on. It is hoped that the event, supported by the Borough of Poole, will become an annual one.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Writing Buddies - A Reflection

Reflections on Writing Buddies from Barbara Jackson, Southampton Writers' Circle:

'I am very remiss in not mentioning this before but I attend 'Writing Buddies' and have done ever since the first meeting, which I came to with some trepidition. What was I going to find? Who was I going to find? Penny had assured me that she thought that she had enough interested writers to attend....

I stepped out of the lift and looked amongst the book shelves and was greatly surprised to see at least 12 people, men, ladies and young ladies. I was late you see, as they had begun at 2.00 p.m. Penny hailed me and when I had purchased my drink and roll, I joined in. Believe me, one cannot be shy for very long! Everyone is so friendly and we are all there for more than one reason. The main one is, I suppose, that writing can be a very lonely occupation and we all feel the same.

DO come and find us and swell the group. You will not be disappointed. The next meeting is Friday, 17th July.'

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Writing Buddies - a message from Jimmy Marsh

Jimmy Marsh, first left in the photo below, has emailed to say the following:

The fourth meeting of Writing Buddies and what a huge sucess it was. We had the delight of our first guest, Simon Whaley. And he was marvellous. It brightened up the meeting to know someone like Simon was willing to take the time to sit and chat with us at Borders.

Again I have to say it opens new horizens for me when something like this happens and I was able to get some much needed advice about one of my characters from the Davie Collins series of books I have just finished writing. Most of the people round the table appreciated what I was trying to present with this character and gave me some very encouraging tips about presentation.

So come on all of you writers in Southampton and beyond, we are there every other Friday afternoon at 2pm. You are all welcome to join us

Friday, 3 July 2009

Writing Buddies - Simon Whaley, our first guest!

Simon Whaley (second from left) joined us for a cuppa for our fourth meeting and a very lively, laughter filled meeting it was too!

A dozen writers gathered to discuss successes and hot topics. Chief amongst these was how to break in to, and have success in, the short story market, with many of the group offering tips and advice on how to approach different publications. It was agreed that the best way forward was to target a publication, read several copies and then attempt to produce stories in the same style. Never send the same story to another publication unless it has been re-written to suit the second's style. Time management techniques for writers also came up. Simon suggested that having a writer's diary, which records not just what has been accomplished in the day, but also how well the writing has gone, was useful.

There were several successes reported and it was great to hear of them.

Robin Dynes (back row, dark blue top), has a new book, part of a long running series for therapists, 'Instant Session Plans', coming out soon. 'Instant Session Plans for Essential Life Skills: Relationships,' is due out in September. To pre-order it click here.

Mo Foster (back row with black scarf), has 'Words Fly' coming out in June 2010, to add to her considerable repertoire of published works.

Pam Whittington (back row, second from right, green top), was Commended at the recent Hythe Festival for her poem, 'A Fall at the Gym.'

Barbara Dynes (back row, fourth from left), has a double page spread in July's Writers' Forum magazine. Her piece is entitled, 'Recruit six honest serving men' and offers advice on how Rudyard Kipling's poem can 'provide a useful checklist' for stories.

Donna Steward (front row, second from left), has just completed an Open University course, 'Understanding Human Nutrition,' and is now full of enthusiasm and ideas to begin her first piece of writing. The group look on Donna as their first project, as she has only recently decided to start writing. Writing Buddies will offer on-going support and advice to Donna in the coming months and we all wish her well with her endeavours.

Penny Legg (back row, third from left, in white), has revamped her website and now offers editorial and writing advice to new writers, students, job seekers and the unemployed, in addition to her freelance journalism and photographic services.

Other news was also in abundance.

Barbara Jackson (front row, first on left) reported that the Southampton Writers' Circle has asked Society of Woman Writers and Journalists' (SWWJ) Chair, Jean Morris, to adjudicate the Greensleeves Award for a short story, in November. The SWC's next meeting is on Wednesday 15th July. Contact Barbara for details through the above link.

Tessa Warburg (front row, second from right) told the group of the previous evening's Writer's in Southampton (WiS) meeting, where Hedge End based author, Daniel Clay, was the guest speaker. 'Broken' was Daniel's first book, after having had two poems and three short stories published in twenty years of writing before his book was published to much acclaim. It has been published on two continents and in three languages and has been shortlisted for two awards. The BBC have also optioned the film rights. It would be great if Daniel could make a Writing Buddies meeting one day.

It was also reported that Writers' News, the magazine for subscribers to Writing Magazine, has a piece on the launching of Writing Buddies. This really is good news. Our little group is now on the map.

In all, it was a fun-filled, lively, advice-ridden and laid back meeting. Writing Buddies thanks Simon Whaley for coming and we hope he enjoyed the afternoon as much as we enjoyed having him join us.

Our next meeting is on Friday 17th July at 2pm, at the Borders bookshop in Southampton. Everyone is welcome.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Writing Buddies - A Successful Meeting Indeed!

Our third meeting at Borders and we had to breathe in to fit us all around the table! There were five new writers to welcome, three professionals and two aspiring. It is great to see that news of our little group is spreading.

The talk over the mugs of coffee ranged from the sad demise of the semi-colon to the fate of those who succumb to the flattery of some of the more unscrupulous vanity publishers. Tessa Warburg told us about her book launch and how pleased she had been with the way it was handled at Waterstones and Julia Painter was congratulated for her win in the recent Write-Invite competition (see previous blog entry). How to cope with distance learning students with poor English formed a major part of the decision at one point. Several of those sipping coffee today were tutors who had not visited Africa or India, where many of the students came from, and they sought advice on the kind of English being taught there. It was interesting to note that there was enough experience around the table to be able to offer advice. Dee Williams told us of how she started the first of her nineteen novels and the trials and tribulations she went through to get it to a publishable standard.

In all, there were fourteen writers present, representing both fiction and non-fiction, brand new and nervous to seasoned veterans. It is really good to see that Writing Buddies is becoming so popular.

Our next meeting is on Friday 3rd July at 2pm at the Borders Bookstore in Southampton, when we will be welcoming Simon Whaley with a cuppa. You are welcome to join us.

Writing Buddies - Our first book launch

Tessa Warburg launched her latest novel, The Dohlen Inheritance, the first part of a trilogy, at Waterstones, Southampton, last night. Well attended, the launch saw part of the novel being read and many copies being signed by the author.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Writing Buddies - Taiella, a new blog

Tessa Warburg, one of the Writing Buddies, has started a new blog following our discussion of blogging and its many and various merits at the last cuppa and a chat session in Borders.

To read her blog click here. As you can see, it is interesting and entertaining. I wish her luck with it.

The next meeting of Writing Buddies is on Friday, 19th June, at 2pm at the Borders Bookshop in Southampton. See you there!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Writing Buddies - Our first guest...

I am pleased to announce that Simon Whaley, author, writer, photographer and traveller, will be coming for a cuppa and a chat with the Writing Buddies on Friday 3rd July. As usual the group will meet at 2pm in the Borders Bookshop in Southampton. Everyone is welcome.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Writing Buddies - We Have a Winner!

Hot off the presses is the news that Julia Painter has won the WriteOnSite competition held on Saturday 30th May.

The announcement is as follows:

We are pleased to announce that a winner has been chosen for the WriteOnSite competition held on Saturday the 30th May 2009.

Congratulations to Julia Painter who has won the competition with the entry 'Man-made fibres'!

Julia won with 45% of the votes, taking home the prize fund of £40.00. The runners up were Simon Hall with ‘The free climber’ and Joanna Campbell with ‘The Scarlet Ribbon’.

Themes: 1 Scarlett 2 Footsteps 3 Chaz's 1970's polo-necked cardigan 1 'Blending' contained 'The colour of our love blistered into a pale bubble' This was a strong contender. 'The Scarlett Ribbon' was about men - 'an assortment to dip into'. A social scene well-evoked about women following men, containing also ...'a storm cloud of mosquitoes'. And then at the end something really happened. Was short-listed. 'Scarlet' featured a man's transformation via make-up and more. 'Strawberry' had an immediately fast pace, clever use of a reflective tone in conjunction with the practicalities under the make-up artist. 'Scarlett' had a girl working for an auction house who gets very interested in a figure in her own image. Clever and a good idea. 2 Featured 'Following' - a woman thinks she is being followed, perhaps she has done something wrong? She hasn't. A good twist. 'Running' was somebody definitely escaping their pursuers, exciting! 'The free climber' was highly descriptive, we were guessing a combination of themes 1 and 2.' With 'Footseps:' we wanted to know who was on the other side of the door. 'Footsteps' was simple, good strong writing - poignant and a clever idea: the footseps of a blind person. 3 'Man-made fibres' had pace, with sentences cracking along. We liked the intimacy with the father and the child, and the minatue of clothing described. Cloying. Claustrophobic. Enoyed the Basil Brish inference too! You voted this your winner! 'The Music Man' contained 'Call me Chaz. I didn't.' Funny, good dialogue. 'A comfort' was the tale of a man clinging to the memory of his wife through a cardigan - plausible writing here. And with 'Unpicking' a woman recycles a cardigan for the next generation. Plausible and moving.

You can read this and previous winning entries on the WriteInvite website.

The next competition will start at 5:30pm on Saturday the 13th June 2009

Entry is just £4.00 with the winner taking home half ‘the pot’ (with a guaranteed minimum win of £5)!

Congratulations, Julia.

Writing Buddies - From One of Our Writers

This has come in as a comment from one of our members, James Marsh.


just to say how much everyone seemed to enjoy the second meeting of writing buddies. A new member turned up and obviously enjoyed the experience. I have gained so much from the first two meetings of this group.

Listening and talking with other writers, many of them published authors. It lets me know I am not alone as I sit and pound out my ideas in the seclusion of my home.

Turning up at Borders and enjoying a cup of coffeee with these people lifts me up to another level.

So why not come along to the next meeting on the 19th of June and enjoy the afternoon with all of us. You will be made very welcome indeed.

Jimmy Marsh

Thanks Jimmy. There has been a flurry of comments on this site from our writers recently. After two meetings, we are going strong!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Writing Buddies - A Great Meeting of Literary Minds...

One of our writers, Julia Painter, has summed up today's meeting, our second, at Borders. This is what she says:

'A great meeting of literary minds took place this afternoon at Borders! Wonderful to be able to link up with other writers - published and aspiring - representing a multidude of genres. This afternoon we talked latest news writing-wise, including competitions, writing conferences and other local groups. What is good about this new group is its informality and the participants' desire to share information, news and hot tips. Looking forward to the next session! And another Starbucks Caramel Latte and Chocolate Cake...'

Come and join us. It really is fun! the next meeting is Friday 19th June at the Southampton Borders bookshop at 2pm.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Writing Buddies - A great success!

Well, here we are, the first Writing Buddies. As you can see, there were 10 of us, 8 published writers and 2 aspiring, all with great plans and lots of interest in all aspects of the writing business.

Subjects discussed included the loneliness of the isolated writer, markets - which I will be exploring for the group and bringing suggestions to further meetings, writing associations and societies and a resume of the writing accomplishments of each of the group.

Two ladies from WiS - Writers in Southampton - turned up and told the group about themselves. WiS is a group of published writers who meet on the first Thursday of every month at the Richmond Pub in Portswood. The group is open to all published writers, who receive news of local literary events and can participate in discussions and hear guest speakers. Please contact me if you are interested in details of this group and I will put you in touch with them.

All agreed that having coffee and a chat in Borders was a good idea and there was much laughter amidst the more serious talk.

The next meeting is in two weeks time, on Friday 5th June at 2pm, at the Borders bookshop in Southampton. Join us, you will be very welcome!

Writing Buddies will launch this afternoon!

Yes, today is Writing Buddies day! Can't wait! I will be taking my camera along and recording the event for posterity, so watch this space for up to the minute news of the first meeting.

It will be interesting to see who comes along. As the group is aimed at anyone with an interest in writing, I am hoping that the first participants will be an eclectic mix of personalities.

More later!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Writing Buddies on Borders' website!

Writing Buddies is now being advertised on the Borders website. This is good news indeed. As the days rush by to the first meeting, interest is reaching epic proportions. I hope that come Friday, we have a nice sprinkling of interested writers just ready for a cuppa and a chat.

I'll have my camera with me to record the event for posterity and this blog. I look forward to meeting YOU there!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Writing Buddies, stirring up interest!

Writing Buddies is starting to attract attention.

My friend and colleague, Pam Whittington, who has been my right hand in helping to set up Writing Buddies, will be there for the launch on Friday, 22 May. Pam is a local historian, short story writer and novelist. She is a member of the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists and Flair for Words.

Janie and Cass Jackson are also coming. They are the authors of more books than I care to count and the founders of Flair for Words. I was recently at the Flair 21st birthday 'Pow-Wow' in Bournemouth, when we celebrated 21 years of success. It will be great to welcome them to Writing Buddies.

Rob Innis, feature writer for The Inland Magazine magazine in Spain, short story writer, editor of the Writers Bureau student magazine, Chapter and Verse, and Deputy Chairman of the Torrevieja Writers Circle, has blogged about the launch and sent best wishes for our success, as has Simon Whaley, author, photographer, traveller, Writers Bureau tutor and good friend. For some reason I cannot get the link to Simon's blog to work correctly. His site is:

I will, of course, also be there. For those interested, my name is Penny Legg. I am a freelance writer, photographer and editor. A member of the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists and Flair for Words, I edit The Woman Writer, the Society's magazine. I am currently working on a book, Folklore of Hampshire, for The History Press, to be published in July 2010.

Writing Buddies is open to everyone with an interest in writing. Come along to Borders in Southampton at 2 o'clock on Friday, 22 May 2009, and join us for a cuppa and a chat. It's free, just pull up a chair!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Welcome to Penny Legg's 'Writing Buddies'

Welcome to this, the first blog on the new Writing Buddies blog site.

I have had to call the site Penny Legg's Writing Buddies because someone else had already got the Writing Buddies blog name. Shame, but no hard feelings!

So, what is this all about? Penny Legg's Writing Buddies are a group of professional and aspiring writers who meet for an informal cuppa and a chat at Borders bookshop in Southampton, every other week. Our first meeting will be on Friday 22 May 2009, at 2pm.

We are not a writing circle and so we do not read our own work, nor do we offer critique or proof reading services. Instead, we chat about anything writing related, from market news to current successes, problems to overcome, plots to move forward and successes to share. Anything in fact that the writers meeting that week want to talk about.

It will be fun and free. So, if you find yourself in Southampton and want to join in, pull up a chair and enjoy!