Monday, 30 November 2009

Peter Lovesey at Writing Buddies

The Writing Buddies meeting on Friday 20th November was a well attended affair, when the Buddies welcomed crime writer Peter Lovesey to share coffee and chat at Borders bookshop. We also said 'Hello' to several writers who joined us for the first time.

Fiona had sent off a manuscript for the Harry Bowling Prize, had enrolled on three courses at West Dean College in Chichester and had been approached about speaking at school on her writing experiences.

Glen has seen her script rejected by the BBC and is currently working on amateur dramatics in the community.

New Writing Buddy Diana turned to writing after ill health forced her into early retirement. She has had numerous letters, articles and a biography published and is working on her first novel, which is currently under consideration with an agent. She is a graduate of the London School of Journalism.

Mo is busy writing articles for magazines and newspapers.

Dee had come straight from Waterstones, where she had been stock signing.

Tessa is looking for an editor for her second book. She is busy designing a bookmark for Writers In Southampton, who are holding their next meeting on 3rd December in Portswood.

Ex-teacher, Peter Lovesey, took up writing in 1975 and, as he put it, 'does enough to keep going and make a living.' Peter's overseas sales help considerably to making writing a worth while proposition for him. He is currently writing book number 32.

Jimmy is busy writing a sci-fi novel and has just started a war in the future!

Patsy reported that her proofs have come through from the publisher and she really must check them. Life is hectic though and finding time is difficult.

Pam has been involved recently with the Poetry Trust.

Poet Peter is looking to publish a series of poems he wrote some years ago. He has been going to open mic events and will be in Swindon at the White Hart soon.

There was a discussion of various open mic sessions and their value. Mo revealed she is also a performance poet. The sessions run by Rob Richardson at Rosie's Wine Bar in Portsmouth were mentioned.

Barbara is still writing her diary, into its 40th year. She has been busy preparing a workshop for the Southampton Writer's Circle, and writing her pages for the Church magazine.

Chris, another new member, writes short stories and has an idea for a novel, which she is working on. She has previously published a book on child and adolescent mental health, which is in its second edition. She was a social worker and family therapist.

Penny had been interviewed on Express FM and the interview would be broadcast on 1st December. She is coming to the end of writing her book, Folklore of Hampshire.

Peter Lovesey outlined his approach to writing. He said he takes about six weeks to produce a detailed synopsis and then writes the book. There are no drafts although he acknowledged that sometimes the characters get larger as they evolve. 'It's exciting when it happens,' he said. For Peter the synopsis is the most creative part of the whole writing process.

Dee said that her synopsis is usually a paragraph long. She commented that she is expected to produce a book set within the period 1900 - 1960, which encompasses 2 World Wars and a depression, so she has lots of scope. She writes in chapters, and prints off each with the date as she goes. She stressed the importance of getting the period right.

The group discussed the importance or otherwise of character names. Peter L said that he looked at the surnames of a cricket team 100 years ago and chose names from that. It was pointed out that a common name was a good thing, as readers could identify with the character.

The question of celebrity writers was discussed at length, particularly in light of Lynda La Plante's comments at the Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards Ceremony a short time ago. She urged publishers and agents to turn back towards the ordinary everyday writers and to ditch the 'celebrity writer' who did not write their own book. It was generally acknowledged that Katie Price's book was dumbed down. Ghost writing gigs can often be lucrative though it was commented.

The question of whether Carole Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage were blanked by the BBC was discussed. They had been billed to appear on Late Night Review and at the last moment it was announced that they would not appear. Several of the Writing Buddies felt that there was some kind of conspiracy going on behind the scenes and speculation was rife as to what this could be.

It was commented that rhyming poetry was on its way back and it was cool for boys to write poetry again, particularly if was then used as a rap, to music. It was noted that the Birmingham Poetry Slam evolved out of rapping.

Both Fiona and Peter F were congratulated on their recent success as they had been elected to membership of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists.

In all it was a lively meeting. The next meeting will take place on Friday 4th December. In light of the problems Borders are currently experiencing, the venue will be announced shortly. Nicola Guy, commissioning editor at The History Press will be our guest at this meeting.

If you are interested in joining us at the next meeting, please email Penny on for the latest information.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Writing Buddies Carries On!

After last meeting, when the tables on the Borders shop floor were in use and there was nowhere for the Writing Buddies to go apart from in the noisy coffee shop, I am pleased to report that this time we had a spot back in the relative peace and quiet of the shop itself.

Nine Buddies turned up and it was good to meet two new additions to the group.

Jimmy, as usual, has been very busy. He has sent off competition entries to Legend Press, Bridge House, McKitterick, the BBC My Story Competition and the Southampton Writers' Circle and now had his fingers crossed as he waits for the results. In the meantime he is writing chapter 11 of his latest book, a sci-fi/fantasy and is editing the first three chapters of his first Davy Collins novel so that it can be sent out to a publisher.

Richard has not been writing recently but was happy to join in the group again as he can only come along every so often.

Tessa has been busy editing her second novel.

Donna reported more success, this time with the Poets of Africa Institute. She is now working on a collection of short stories, to be illustrated by her husband. She has tried her hand at the Hythe writing group 250 word exercise, which was challenging.

The Writing Buddies welcomed Jenna, who writes fantasy fiction and James, who wants to write scientific articles or crime stories.

Patsy is busy editing her latest book on dog training. This will be her fourth book. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association new writers scheme and has submitted twenty thousand words to them for appraisal. She is waiting for feedback. In the meantime she is studying with Sophie King through Writers' News and is a member of the Chandlers Ford Writers' Group.

Barbara had been six days with out a computer thanks to a hard drive failure. This had caused a lot of stress and we all noted how our lives have changed since the advent of the home computer.

Penny went to Manchester to meet other tutors at the Writers' Bureau head office. It was an interesting insight into the college and a chance for her to meet some of the other tutors. In the meantime, she is busy finishing her book, Folklore of Hampshire, which has to be at the publisher soon. She has been asked to appear on the radio, on Rob Richardson's show on Express FM on Wednesday 18th November, which she is looking forward to. She is busy trying to think of suitable music for the show.

Peter and Jacque R both sent regrets as they were sick. Philippa was swamped with work, as was Dee. They all said 'Hi' and hoped to be along to the next meeting.

The discussions this meeting were as varied as usual. The question of e-books and the Kindle book reader came up again. It was noted that the e-book readers were getting better in terms of quality and the price had come down considerably. It was felt that the chief advantage to having one was when travelling, when instead of dragging a heavy book around you could have a whole library in one lightweight unit.

The Writing Buddies were interested in proof reading and copyediting courses and Penny noted that she had just been sent the latest such course offered by the Writers Bureau, with a view to tutoring that course in addition to the non-fiction courses she currently covers. The merits of learning about proof reading were discussed and it was felt that this was a vital skill for any writer.

The merits of the new Windows 7 as compared to Vista were also discussed. Some of the group had already made the jump, whilst others were waiting to see what bugs there were to be ironed out first.

Richard had brought along an advertising piece from a publishing agent and the group talked about such advertising and the merits of agents looking for writers in this manner. It was felt that companies have to start somewhere but it was wise to research what they were offering before plunging in.

In all it was another information and advice packed session.

If you fancy coming along and joining in you are most welcome. The next meeting is on Friday 20th November when we will be welcoming crime writer Peter Lovesey to the coffee table. The meeting is at 2pm in the Borders bookshop in Southampton.