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.