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.