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.

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