Friday, 28 January 2011


The Writing Buddies met at The Art House Café in Southampton on Friday 21 January 2011 where several new members were gathered round the table.

Jimmy has received the cover for his book Growing up in Wartime Southampton: Someone else's Trousers from The History Press and is very pleased with it. Chapter 24 of Java's Revenge is ongoing, possibly continuing to chapter 25. Recently he was asked by Age Concern to talk to a group of young people from Southampton College about his experiences growing up during the war. He ran a writing workshop in the afternoon and was particularly impressed by one young man’s grasp of what life was like during the war.

Claire, a new member, wrote two non fiction books some years ago but now wants to try her hand at fiction writing. Last year she attended an Arvon Course and this led to her entering a competition with her first story of 4,000 words, set in China. As yet she has not received any results. She is also thinking of entering the Début Dagger competition.

Jacqueline entered the How-to-Books, December competition. She is still writing for Suite 101, which she informed the group has re-vamped its site. Now, statistics show how many people read the articles that week, particularly over Christmas. She has been looking at the Cats Protection Competition which is for a poem or story up to 1,000 words. The first draft of her children’s book is finished and she is now editing and this will be ready in February.

Pam has had a quiet time on the writing front but continues with her research.

Laurel, another new member, writes short stories and has written a science fiction book for children, which was turned down by the publisher she sent it to. She has recorded it for You Tube. The title is Alice and the Best Friends Forever! Jane's Secret. She has also submitted four poems for consideration with a publication and is a member of the Southampton Writers Circle where she recently won the Greensleeves trophy for a short story competition.

Mo's illustrations for her new novel are presently on hold. She reported that her Berlin interview has inaccuracies. She is re-writing her novel and has written four or five more poems.

John has been reading short poems in Bournemouth and has written four drama reviews this year. On line reviewing from Writing Buddies would be appreciated. John advised the group of a Poetry Anthology competition with a closing date for entries of 30 June 2011. To enter send three unpublished poems of no more than 20 lines and 160 words each to United Press Ltd., Admail 3735, London EC1 1JB or visit

Tessa has sent the illustrations for her trilogy to Germany and is considering translating the trilogy. She has been asked to do a talk on Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Day and a reporter from the Echo has been to interview her.

Josephine has 'started to finish' her book on Meetings. She went to a Parish Meeting and realised there was no difference, but it was useful. Next step is publication as all the book is written - 163 pages plus 70 appendices. She is considering taking bits of the book for articles.

Mercy, a new member, has a poetry connection and is currently writing a novel about HIV set in Africa. She has so far completed 10,000 words. She wanted to join a group and not just be a lone writer so would welcome sharing her work for feedback.

Richard has ideas for a novel and stories but other issues are at present preventing him from forwarding these.

Annette told the group that she had recently purchased Penny's book Southampton Then and Now from Tesco's, Bursledon. She has been inspired by Writing Buddies and approached BBC Scotland regarding a script she had written about life during the last world war. They informed her that they do not take unsolicited scripts. She has poems put together that need illustration. Her family suggested she write a book set in the 1950s about her memory of Scotland. One story has already been accepted. She wrote an illustrated children’s book some years ago and is now wondering about its suitability for animation.

Fiona has finished her book Relative Truth, the editing of which took a long time. She has drawn up a list of agents who favour first time writers. The synopsis is done and she is pacing herself. She has also started her next book. The City Literature course is going well. Her partner's book is being launched 19th February, about Racing Ace – Samuel Kinkade.

Martin, new to the group, was a columnist back in the 1980's, mainly writing about family life. He started blogging in July 2009 and has self published a poetry book through Blurb.

Catherine took a break from writing in December but is now continuing on the first draft of her novel of 75,000 words. She was very pleased that her application to the Romantic Novelist Association New Writers Scheme has been accepted. Catherine has booked to go to the York Festival of Writing in March, where she has a meeting with a publisher. She has submitted a short story for Queensland competition which is for 500 – 1,000words and closes on 28 January 2011. One hundred entries will be selected as winners.

Elizabeth has enrolled with The Writers Bureau which will give her the encouragement and incentive to continue writing regularly. A short story for a competition is well under way and she is progressing with her book, although much research is still needed.

Penny advised that the Writing Buddies Anthology has been proof read. She apologised for the delay but her software is not compatible with the publisher's and this had caused a problem. Her book Voices of Southampton is on track for end of February. Haunted Southampton is due out next week and she should have copies by 4 February. It will be in the shops shortly after that. Penny continues to mark scripts for The Writer Bureau. She was invited to The Writers' Study in Dorset to present the prizes after judging their short story and poetry competition.

Further discussion took place and Penny advised the group that she could arrange to have one Buddies meeting just about self publication. She will keep the group advised about this.

The London Book Fair will be held at Earls Court on 11 -13th April 2011. Writers can book appointments with publishers and discuss submissions and contracts. This is an opportunity to meet publishers and test out ideas, knowing they will give straight answers. There will be workshops but you need to book the fair in advance. It is advisable to take a trolley on wheels for all the literature that is available. Details are on line now.

York Festival of Writing, 25 - 27th March, is residential but with the London Book Fair you can do a single day.

On Friday 4 February Penny is running a creative workshop through Age Concern for the over 50s. It will be held at Cranbury Terrace, Southampton from 10 – 12 noon and the accent will be getting going with writing and making it fun. Penny emphasised that poetry will not be covered.

Mercy was hoping that someone from the group would be willing to read her work and it was suggested that perhaps she and Claire could become writing buddies.

Penny requested new members to furnish her with their blog addresses, so that they could be put on the Writing Buddies blog site.

The next Writing Buddies meeting will be held on Friday 4th February, at 2pm, at the Art House Cafe, Above Bar, Southampton. Everyone is welcome.

Notes written by Elizabeth Streatfield.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Writing Buddies - Mo Foster in Berlin

One of the Writing Buddies, Mo Foster, is causing quite a stir in Berlin at the moment. Click to read her interview in the NPR Berlin blog.

Congratulations, Mo!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Writing Buddies, December 17th, 2010

Despite the big chill, Southampton Writing Buddies met once again at The Art House, and had evidently put in a good deal of writing since the previous meeting.

Jacqueline is working on the ending of her children’s novel, and will go on to do a substantial edit. She has begun approaching critique services to choose one to advise once the work is ready. She has entered the HowTo Books latest competition, and pitched to publishers the idea for a small till-side stocking filler book for next Christmas.

Glen has a poem in the Portsmouth poetry book, This Island City, and she has recited her story about singing turkeys at some events – this was inspired by a soft toy. Now that the Express FM soap Conway Street, for which she was a script writer, has ended, she is in contact with The History Press about a book on Eastleigh.

Elizabeth is setting her goals for the new year, and plans to allocate time every day for her writing. Meanwhile, she has been continuing plotting and writing her novel.

Mo has completed 9000+ words of her novel, a sequel to A Blues for Shindig. She read poetry at the 451 event at The Nuffield Theatre, including two new poems; the evening was headlined by John Hegley. She is now reviewing her previous body of work which includes plays as well as poetry.

Tessa has a new computer. There were problems upgrading some existing programmes but she has found very helpful. They provide a way of installing older programmes on new computers, or of putting them on a virtual drive which can be transported to any computer. The first draft of the third book of her trilogy, Ladybird Soar, is completed and Tessa is now editing it. Agents have liked her wildflower book but have not felt able to take it on for practical reasons, and she is also trying publishers directly, but she may decide to self-publish. She is also considering a book on a food theme.

Christine has re-registered with The Writers Bureau, and has already completed the first assignment. She first registered many years ago, but they are happy for her to resume now with just a small payment for updated materials. She is editing the second book on young people’s mental health, and details are being discussed with the publisher. She may submit a piece for the HowTo Books competition, and is considering updating and rewriting a very old book on local walks.

Catherine was pleased to finish NaNoWriMo in good time, and will do further work on the book after the holiday. She plans to spend more time writing short stories again, for magazines and competitions. She has been entering competitions including one for blogs, and has so many followers that she is going to run her own competition. She is also considering joining the Romantic Novelists Association.

Jimmy is now working on chapter 22 of Java’s Revenge, and the proofs of his autobiography Growing Up in Southampton, Someone Else’s Trousers are due just after Christmas.

Lisa recently attended a crime and thriller workshop, and made many contacts. The speaker recommended the book Forensics for Dummies. She has entered short stories on authonomy, and has been blogging; her blog includes music reviews, and some links to it have started up from other sites including Facebook.

John read his poetry at the 451 event at The Nuffield, and thought the evening went well. He also read for a solo session at the Arches Bizarre event at The Bargate shopping mall; the audience at that time was small but there was a very positive response. He has entered the competition for an opinion columnist; the prize is substantial over a period of time.

Penny now has the software working for Wordfall, the Buddies’ Anthology, and it is taking shape. Richard Ashman from Southampton Central Library has agreed to proofread for us. Penny has been book-signing for Southampton Then and Now and Folklore of Southampton, including at Waterstone’s and ASDA. It was the first time ASDA had staged this sort of event; they produced a very good environment for her, and she sold an impressive number of books. She is currently working on Voices of Southampton, and is shortly to interview Carol Cunio, the city’s mayor.

Discussion followed, and topics included obtaining critiques, using #ff (forward Friday) on Twitter to recommend good people to follow, and a magazine Teller, which includes poems and short stories and is prestigious, though it does not pay writers. Marketing for our books was also discussed; it was agreed that Penny’s establishing ASDA as a signing venue could be helpful for Buddies’ future books. Various genres and competitions were also on the agenda.

This was the last Writing Buddies’ meeting for 2010; the next will be on Friday January 21st, at 2pm at The Art House, Above Bar, Southampton. Everyone with an interest in writing is very welcome. In the meantime, we wish everyone a productive and successful new year.
me, Glen, Elizabeth, Mo, Tessa, Christine, Catherine, Jimmy, Lisa, John and you), Writing Buddies, HowTo Books, John Hegley, Romantic Novelists Association, Authonomy, Facebook, Waterstone’s, ASDA, Teller.