Saturday, 24 April 2010

Writing Buddies - 23 April 2010

The latest meeting of the Writing Buddies saw 11 writers at The Art House Cafe in Southampton on Friday 23rd April.

Glen, fresh from a break on the Isle of Wight, had been to a New Forest Writers meeting, where she was tasked to write a piece on the subject of 'the lady'. She is now looking for a market for the resulting piece. Glen has also applied for membership of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists.

Elizabeth has had to reschedule her trip to Spain, due to the volcanic ash in the atmosphere. She is making the best of it and is busy working on a short story, that has grown from the original 1000 words and will now be much longer.

Jacqueline is still awaiting feedback from her query about a sleep article which she has pitched to three magazines. She is also working on the outline of an article about improving memory. In January she sent a hard copy story to Weekly News and, as she had heard nothing, decided to call the magazine. She was told that a 'typed story' will take at least six months to receive a reply. It is a quicker by email. Jacqueline has also won a prize for her limerick sent to the Hedgehog Preservation Society. She wonders if she is now a 'Hedgehog Laureate'!

Tessa, also suffering from the volcanic ash as she should have been in America, has uploaded her novel to Authonomy and has found the whole thing 'depressing'. There are thousands of entries and she is convinced there are too many for hers to be found. She thinks it a 'mutual appreciation society' as you have to spend a long time reading other people's work. Tessa has launched her own website and one for The Thorn Press.

Kate has posted her Twitter list of 50 publishers as promised. She is now writing book reviews on behalf of WH Smith, who send her the books to review. Kate is also working on the rough draft of a new One Act Play, which is a new departure for her as she is used to working to word counts in short stories, rather than timings. She told the group about the TV channel, Alibi, which is running a competition for the first line of a crime short story. The winning line will be written into a book by crime writing duo Nicci French. Kate is busy blogging and is awaiting her article to be printed in Pick Me Up magazine.

Peter has had one of his poems accepted by Forward Press. It will be published with his bio. Peter has a week-long 50 minute slot at the Edinburgh Festival to present his poetry. He is now thinking about how best to present his work and the Writing Buddies suggested various options to consider, including how he could incorporate powerpoint and video into his show. In the meantime he has copyright issues with the photographs he is using for his booklet. The Writing Buddies suggested that he track down the copyright holders of the photos for permission to use the shots. The merits of Flickr were also discussed.

Jimmy has signed a contract with The History Press for Someone Else's Trousers. He has to edit it by ten thousand words and sort out the photographs, whose copyright lies with the Southampton City Archives. He has contacted Keith Hamilton at the Daily Echo and wishes to publicise the fact that he would like former residents of Belgrave Road and former pupils of Portswood School to attend the book launch next year. He is about to launch his blog and website. He has joined Twitter and Facebook. He is busy organising the first of his Sundance Gang books ready to send to Legend Press and The Far End of the Tunnel for Authonomy.

The Writing Buddies welcomed Siobhan to the meeting. Siobhan writes fiction and blogs. She is one of Mo's former pupils. It was good to meet her.

Christine says, 'She has lots going on in her mind!' Since her last Writing Buddies meeting she has decided to make her book fiction and is thinking about her characters. She has also ideas for a sequel to the first book and another book, which will appeal to both the US and UK markets. It was noticeable that her confidence has grown a lot in the short time since she was last at Writing Buddies. She is now thinking of a blog and website.

Mo loves blogging! She has also joined Facebook but is less enamoured with it. She has been offered the opportunity of reading her work at a London art show, 'Art and Publicity'. She is looking forward to the re-launch of her book, A Blues for Shindig, by Exclusively Independent. Mo has recently been offered readings at Houseman's and other radical bookshops in London.

Penny delivered her latest book, Southampton Then and Now, to the publisher just before Easter. She attended the York Festival of Writing , where she was part of a contingent of SWWJ Ambassadors talking to delegates about the Society, and she also co-presented a workshop, 'Writing Groups To Get You Published' with Silja Swaby and Jay Cole. Penny was at the London Book Fair, where she spoke to several publishers about ideas she has for future books.

Discussion around the table covered the question of confidence and women's reticence, which was seen as a drawback to a writer. You have to believe in yourself and your work. It was also felt that some educated writers were too analytical of their work, which held them back.

Writing routines and the point at which excitement takes over was also discussed. Many at the table found activities such as walking, swimming and gardening helped them to overcome problems in their work, giving them time to think their work through.

Peter commented that it was difficult to set up book signings for his self published booklet of poetry. Mo mentioned that it was easy to get book readings in Berlin when she was there recently.

The value of local writing events was discussed and it was hoped that the Poole Lit Up! event would be held again this year.

As Writing Buddies is about to celebrate its first birthday the group would like to publish an anthology of work by group members. A Writing Buddies competition was discussed at length and terms were agreed. The top three writers in each category would be published in the anthology. Penny would edit it and design/lay it out to keeps costs down. Quotes to print and publish it were to be sought. As the competition would only be open to members of Writing Buddies, it would only be a viable proposition if enough members took part. It is hoped that the book would be ready just before Christmas.

The visit to Ashtara for the Writers' Pamper Day is looming - Saturday 26th June 2010. The programme is as follows:

09.30 Meet and greet with tea/coffee
10.00 Talk with Andrew Hobbs on inspirational writing
10.30 - 12.00 10 minute taster sessions - with a medium or Tarot card or Angel card reading
30 minute Holistic Therapies - choose from Indian head massage, Crystal mini facial massage, feet treat, moisturising hand massage or Crystal Back massage
12.00 - 13.00 Lunch - bring your own or finger buffet for £6
13.00 - 15.00 10 minute taster sessions - with a medium or Tarot card or Angel card reading
30 minute Holistic Therapies - choose from Indian head massage, Crystal mini facial massage, feet treat, moisturising hand massage or Crystal Back massage
15.00 - 16.00 Interactive talk with Barbara Saph on EFT

The cost is £35. Contact the Ashtara Centre, near Beaulieu in the New Forest, to make a booking.

The idea of this day, open to both sexes, is to allow writers to have a day where they are free of their normal worries and can relax, whilst trying out therapies which may help to inspire. The day will give space to think and to meet other writers to chat. There is a pretty garden, which will be open to participants. It promises to be a day writers will not forget!

Writing Buddies would like to wish The Art House Cafe a very happy birthday!

The next meeting will be on Friday 7th May, at 2pm. Everyone welcome!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Writing Buddies - 9th April

In Penny’s absence, Jacqueline has written these notes.

The Writing Buddies met once again at The Art House on Friday April 9th, with, as usual, a wide ranging discussion and some interesting writing activity to report.

Tessa is publishing the second book of her trilogy in June. She is currently working on establishing her website - - “justhost” seems a good basis and is reasonably priced, although some of the information and directions use American terms and need decoding. She is still thinking of exploring the possible audio-book route in Hamburg.

We welcomed Catherine on her first visit. She produced a good amount of writing while at university, and wants to increase her output. One of her short stories was published in Hampshire View, and a short piece for a competition was also published elsewhere. Another work has been accepted by Pick Me Up weekly magazine, and Catherine is currently converting one of her short stories into a one-act play. She has a blog – – it is really interesting and informative and well worth a look (my comment, not hers!). She is a keen Twitterer (as Catherine Miller), and reports that the main publishing houses are on Twitter and not only do they give an idea of what they’re up to, but they apparently scan writers’ tweets as well. She is set on converting all the buddies to Twitter!

Nathan was also welcomed to the group for the first time. He has written poetry and sci-fi short stories, as well as features on specific interests such as snowboarding, and he mentioned enjoying writing parodies of films among other things. He has a wide range of interests which might inspire further work.

Elizabeth is returning to Spain soon for a short time, and plans to work on short stories she is currently rewriting.

Jimmy has had his autobiography accepted by The History Press for publication in May next year, subject to a reduction in length and resubmission by November. It now has a working title “Growing Up in Wartime Southampton – Someone Else’s Trousers”. Legend Press want to see his Sundance novels, too. He is now on Facebook as James Marsh.

Glen has been sorting out a huge amount of written material from over the years, and is amazed by the quantity. Some she may discard but other work may be useful.

John had his poetry/artwork exhibition extended at Goblets. He showed the group the basis of a booklet made up of the pictures and his own poetry, and hopes to get a print run with a view to sales. He mentioned as a free downloadable program for printing of pictures and text. He may look for a sponsor to advertise in the booklet, and the group discussed this. Tessa mentioned that Lulu self publishing can offer work produced in different sizes. John has also written a play for the artists’ group to perform.

Jacqueline is just completing her latest script for Eastleigh Talking News. She has managed to terminate her webhost contract with early, as she kept getting messages that her browser wouldn’t support their system despite having followed instructions. She is maintaining just her blog with a link to her writing CV for now. She has an outline for a sleep-related feature and is pitching it to health magazines; the group suggested one or two other possible homes for it.

We discussed outlets for poetry; Apples and Snakes have open readings ar venues such as Soul Cellar and the Nuffield Theatre – contact is – and Moving Voices runs at the Art House once a month. For novellists, the site invites authors to post up the first 10,000 words of a novel, and the Yeovil Literary competition for novels, poetry and short stories was mentioned. We also discussed the online ‘employers’ suite101, the problem of practical issues getting in the way of writing plans, unusual spooky incidents, computer crashes, domain parking, and the wide variety of Peter Lovesey’s work.

Finally, although members often have plenty to report, we very much welcome new writers, published or not, to our meetings and discussions. Our next meeting will be at the Art House on Friday April 23rd (auspicious as Shakespeare’s birthday!) at 2 pm.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Writing Buddies - 26th March

Two guests joined us for the last meeting of Writing Buddies, on Friday 26th March. They were Mari Nicholson and June Elford, both having come across from the Isle of Wight for our meeting. They were warmly welcomed.

It was, once again, a lively meeting with attendance into double figures.

The Writing Buddies also welcomed new member, Christine, who is undecided about the direction for her latest work. This was discussed at length and advice given.

John gave feedback about his poetry show at nearby Goblets gallery. He had learnt a lot from this, his first such venture in collaboration with local artists.

Tom had finally sent off his first assignment to the Writers Bureau and was now waiting to hear news of his tutor allocation.

Jimmy was still waiting to hear if The History Press are interested in publishing his memoirs.

Penny was deeply involved with finishing her book, Southampton Then and Now, which had to be with the publisher the following week.

The discussion around the table was about the state of the market for freelancers today (generally difficult), the benefits of writing for Suite 101 as Mari does, naming characters and how important it is to get it right, and writing circles and their benefits.

The next meeting is on Friday 9th April at 2pm. Everyone is welcome.