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.