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.


  1. Penny - Congrats. and good luck on your Writers Bureau appointment. I am also pleased to see the positive comments on the WB, I am currently editor of WB's Chapter and Verse students magazine.

  2. Thank you for this message and the congrats, Rob. I read your magazine with interest. Penny