Monday, 26 March 2012

Writing Buddies at The Art House in Southampton, March 23rd, 2012.

Janet is still working with her nursing memoirs. She is pleased to have a digital print, Impact, as part of Southampton library's Titanic exhibition.

Ray is happy with the progress of his memoirs of the 1950s and 1960s; he has been working with a proofreader who thinks the work will sell but has suggested a reduction in the length of the text to make it more commercial.

Rowan has just written 1,100 words of a short story, though he is concerned about the plotting aspect and this was later discussed in the group.

Tessa now has one of her books published with SelfSelfSelf, though she insisted on seeing the draft and proofreading and correcting it, as well as ensuring that she is listed as the publisher. Tessa is bringing out a facsimile of an earlier work; she has just received the proofs and is pleased with how printer Lightning Source is producing it. Her book The Girl from the Land of Smiles is nearly ready, and should be out in the summer; she is checking that the Thai way with English is being faithfully represented.

Jimmy is still working on the language level in his Jayden the Naughty Goldfish books. His local guide is now to be called Not a Guide to Southampton, and he is negotiating about changes the publishers have requested in number of words and photographs. Jimmy is still seeking an agent for his Sundance Gang novels, and he is considering ebook publishing for the three Far End of the Tunnel books.

Veronica flagged up a local project, the co-op make-a-book club, and mentioned (from The Guardian) that The Gentle Author is running a course on blogging for a £300 fee.

Jacqueline was pleased to report that she won a runner-up prize in the limerick competition in Freelance Market News, and a hardback non-fiction book via Twitter for a rhyme about child workers in the industrial age. She has completed the short story course and submitted a 75-word flash fiction to paragraph planet (internet flash fiction site, one piece published daily).

Discussions involved how a blog can be useful, and looking at plotting in short stories. A book was suggested: Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Good Fiction. We considered a procedure for finished memoirs, and some members thought a professional edit would be worth while although it can be expensive. Then the options include an agent, a publisher, self-publishing (perhaps print-on-demand) or an ebook. It was thought a good idea to write different genres under different names, and one member is already doing this.

*** The meeting which would be due on April 6th (Good Friday) is cancelled, so the Writing Buddies will next meet at The Art House, Above Bar, Southampton at 2pm on Friday April 20th. As ever, anyone with an interest in writing will be very welcome.

Notes by Jacqueline Pye.

Writing Buddies in Full Flow

Southampton Writing Buddies met once again at The Art House in Above Bar on Friday March 9th, 2012, and after our writing news we were very glad to welcome a guest.

Josephine has finished the final edit of her book on managing business meetings, but she is wondering now whether a section about technology should be added. An example would be teleconferencing, and the group felt that this would be a useful addition. She is starting work on another book about management.

Mo has pitched an article to a specific contact at The New Statesman, and awaits their reply. One of her stories is currently being filmed, too.

Jo feels that she is losing her way a little with her travel book. She has written six chapters now, but is still unsure whether it should take the form of a travelogue or an informed novel, and the group discussed this. She will continue to work on it.

Rowan, a new member, is working on some fiction. He told us about
Project Gutenberg, where free books are available.

Karen continues working on her novel, and once finished she is hoping that it will be published.

Alan is working out how to manage his first children’s book. He has submitted a two-part comedy play script to the Nuffield theatre.

Jimmy is continuing with his commissioned miscellany of Southampton, which is expected to be published in January next year.

Veronica is currently studying various religions. She has written some poetry which she hopes to publicise, and is looking for some voices to perform it.
Glen had an excellent formal book launch for Voices of Eastleigh with around sixty guests, and sales were very good.

Janet continues with her stories centred on nursing, but she is keen to go travelling and to write about her experiences.

Tessa is working on her next book, The Land of Smiles, and she is adding to her book
Knitted Quilts and Flounces and will be reissuing it.

Penny has finished Eastleigh: Then and Now and submitted it. She is on a final edit of Under the Queen’s Colours and awaiting the proofs for publication in May, and also working onBloody British History: Southampton. She is thinking about her next book.

Jacqueline recently gave a talk to Writers in Southampton on how to write and sell magazine articles. She has the star letter in the current issue of The Vegetarian magazine as well as a short quote in the vox pops section. She continues with the online short story writing course.

We were very pleased to welcome Ben Ottridge to the meeting. Ben is the director of, which offers ebook publishing for writers - we had discussed his service at previous meetings. He recognised some time ago that self-publishing ebooks could be tricky and time-consuming for writers, and with several years’ experience, he now translates writers’ work from its basic Word format into an ebook which is compatible with Kindle, Kobo and iPad. There is no upfront fee, but the company takes 15% of the net profit (after distribution costs, taxes etc). Ben will provide a basic cover if required, but for £20 he’ll design one individually. Details of the process are on the website.

General discussed followed. The group considered Jo’s concern about her work in progress, and whether it should be a travelogue, an experience piece, or a combination. It was thought important that the book should have ‘something to say’, to lift it above a description of experiences. We also discussed blogs, and the need to take notice of criticism and make use of the parts that seem relevant and right.

Our next meeting will be at The Art House, Above Bar, Southampton on Friday March 23rd at 2pm. Anyone with an interest in writing, at whatever level, will be very welcome.

Notes by Jacqueline Pye.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Serendipity at Southampton Writing Buddies – February 24th, 2012

We met once again at The Art House to discuss our work, questions, ideas and concerns. Jimmy chaired the meeting in Penny's absence.

Firstly, Mo was presented with a book token, the prize for her winning slogan in a competition run on Twitter and Facebook by another of the Writing Buddies but judged independently. She received an enthusiastic round of applause.

Glen had been delighted to receive a consignment of her new book, Voices of Eastleigh, and she'd brought a copy for us to see. She is holding a launch party, and will be signing at Waterstone's in Eastleigh on March 17th (likely 11am - 2pm). A salesman at The History Press has told her that copies are 'flying off the shelves', and Keith Hamilton of the Daily Echo has agreed to mention it in the paper.

Tessa has had to resubmit our anthology, Wordfall, for consideration for an award, as the organisers had evidently mislaid the carefully constructed entry, but it is still in time for the judging.

Mo has had much interest in her recent blog post about her earlier recovery from addiction, including from her publisher, and there may be other platforms for it. Some students are making a film of her story, 'Teddy Boys Picnic'. The American film director continues to seem interested in filming one of her plays, involving her in the screenwriting, but as yet there has been no firm offer of the film or of payment.

Jacqueline is working through her online course on short story writing, and is keeping up. She was taken aback by a lengthy, mainly negative critique, from a co-student, of her story which was to be just a first draft, but members were very supportive about this. Other critiques were kinder. She now has a writer's page on National Flash Fiction Day's site, and has started a new blog about vegetarian food. She has pitched a biog piece to The Lady magazine.

We then heard from Ricky Tart, who happened to be at The Art House and who helped put up the tables for our meeting! He is writing a novel but teaches poetry in local schools. He is helping people to put up iBooks (for the iPad), and spoke of the necessary preliminaries such as linking with a book company registered in the USA and creating an account at iTunes. He is going to send useful links, which we'll put on the loop.

Janet is still working on some short stories on a nursing theme.

Karen continues with her novel, but she has unearthed some earlier short stories, and is now editing them for possible submission.

Lynn has been thinking of a fantasy scenario which involves the physical shifting of a whole country, but she wasn't sure of the target audience. The group felt that almost any fantasy scenario is worth working on, especially if there is a planned placement for it.

Jimmy feels that his own photographs for his Southampton Miscellany have not been sufficiently professional, so he is working on these skills. He has had huge disruption with alterations in his home, but has found that he is able to block out the noise and concentrate surprisingly well. Other members wished they could do the same.

During the following discussion, Glen read out the review of Wordfall from the new edition of the SWWJ newsletter The Woman Writer. This was a positive review, and singled out two pieces for particular praise, one by Catherine and the other by Monica. We also discussed the pros and cons of having an agent for a book, and went through the options for the writer, such as agent, self publishing, direct approach to publishers, and eBooks or iBooks. We chatted a little about the nature of addiction and about a promised new version of Kindle involving colour and better pictures.

The next meeting will be on Friday March 9th, 2pm at The Art House, Above Bar, Southampton. We are pleased that Ben Ottridge of SelfSelfSelf will be explaining the arrangement whereby he will publish writers' work as an eBook for a percentage of any net profit but no upfront fee, spreading it to all the usual platforms. There will also be a general discussion on e-publishing. Anyone with an interest in writing is very welcome to join us.

Blog notes by Jacqueline Pye