Friday, 10 January 2014

Christmas at Writing Buddies - 6 December 2013

The regular monthly meeting of the sprightly group took place on Friday 6th December 2013 at The Mercure Dolphin Hotel, High Street, Southampton between 14.00 and 16.00 hrs.

Fourteen Writing Buddies attended the Christmas meeting.

Karl Chapman was introduced to take minutes/notes. It was agreed that a fee of £2.00 per member in attendance, per week, would be sought to finance a note taker, with any residue kept in a fund held by the group to build up a slight reserve for future necessary expenditure.

During the meeting a new member was introduced as Brian Dunleavy, an author of some six books.    Southampton's local history. He has been approached by Amberley Publishing, but is not keen on their Then and Now format, and would prefer a narrative. He is currently working on a history of the Earls of Southampton.

There was lots of good news this month, which was great to hear.

Tessa has been approached to have her Dohlen Inheritance trilogy  published in German. She is presently having the translations checked and awaiting contracts.

Mo has been reading excerpts from her novel Blues for Shindig in London. She was also involved in a project on Black Culture in Southampton, with some involvement from Robert Elms.  

Lisa has been promoting Sophie Neville's latest book Funnily Enough, which is No. 2 in the Amazon newcomers list. Three newspapers (Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and the Saturday Times) have shown interest in serialising it. It is also now on Kindle, with a video, clicking back to the book.  
   Lisa is still waiting to hear from Mills and Boon, who asked for the full manuscript of her novel.  Lisa has started writing her next one, a modern day romance, which she described as a nice Christmas present.

Jimmy, celebrating his birthday, entered a 500 word story, (which he adapted from a previously produced 3,500 project) to a competition. He has finished his 1940s childhood book.  His publishing company is now set up, and ready to go. He is also re-reading one of his previous works, which he thinks he might resurrect.  

Ann, a keen photographer, sent in some work to a competition. They have selected one for the front cover of a calendar, and a further one for a month’s photograph (along with 10 published words), she is extremely happy.

Jill has been sorting through her late father’s material. She has inherited the copyright of some published work, including some textbooks, comics and 20th century history material. The most astonishing find is some diaries and letters. She was reading through these letters between friends, and found they were conscientious objectors. Her grandfather was an objector during the WW1 and her father during the Second World War. She is going to see if she can track down some photos to add weight to the story. It would make a good drama/documentary, but it needs a little more research. She has sent outlines to two publishers.     

Jacqueline told us about (owned by Amazon). She put forward two children’s books to selected countries through the company.  The promotion was run as a competition with signed copies as prizes. Of the two copies she selected for the American (USA) market, 200 tried to buy. She put forward a further ten for the English (UK) market, 100 registered to buy, and hundreds more wanted to read. She has the 12 e-mail addresses to contact in the future.
Penny apologised for her absence from the last meeting, but explained that she was at an intensive 3 day ‘Millionaire Authors’ Bootcamp’, attended by over 500 delegates.  12 speakers, fiction/non-fiction, each spoke for 90 minutes. The aim was to look at writing from a different perspective. The speakers were all self-made millionaires, made from either writing or writing related areas. They advocated ‘thinking outside the box’, and all had a successful formula to share.  She signed up for two workshops: with John Leah, a motivational public speaker for authors and with Mark Donnan, a marketing guru.
   Penny is currently finishing three writing projects, which will be completed in the early new year.

Discussion turned to the three-month experiment the group has been conducting to sell books and to raise the group's profile. The group have had events and market stands in Winchester, Hedge End, Weston, the Marlands' Shopping Centre in Southampton, Lymington and Titchfield.  Not all of these had been successful and it was decided that some of these venues would not be repeated. Jacqueline had attended four events and these were not entirely successful. She found she had lots of ‘chats’, but not many take-ups - a lot depends on the audience.  Several of the group were looking forward to the week-long stand they had at Marlands in the run up to Christmas and hoped that sales would be good.  Generally, Marlands was thought to be a good venue and this would be continued in 2014.  The opportunity to take up a stand at the huge West Quay shopping centre on Saturday 1 March would be taken up.
Writing Buddies Jacqueline Pye, Eileen Long and James Marsh at Lyndhurst Art and Craft Market

The thorny issue of copyright was discussed.  Lisa had looked into this in depth. With characters, one had to determine whether the character had a copyright placed upon it, and whether it was in or out of the public domain. Examples cited; John Connor (the boy in the Terminator films) and a Young Gandalf (The Rings Trilogy) would they have been minor characters, or would they invoke derivative works? It was agreed that these two probably were covered by copyright, which would cover his future in the first instance, and his past in the latter.   Unless special copyright terms had been obtained, work would be out of copyright 70 – 100 years after the authors death, but it was not automatic, as it can be passed into the estate of the author, so be very careful.  Discussion then ensued about historical characters (e.g. General Custer), care would be made not to offend living relatives. Would you re-imagine the character?, it would be your prose, a work of fiction, but who would own the copyright?  Lisa said that her book’s character was always referred to the terrible Wizard of Oz. A title such as ‘The Housesitter’ may be available to use if it was clear that it was an entirely different entity to any other. Useful website, The Library of Congress:
   The issue of photograph copyright came up. Lisa mentioned, where you can search free images and can morph a bland face into the image to use as your own work, but ‘unmorphed’ images cannot stand alone as own work. Francis Frith photographs are under copyright, and permission is required to use, although the postcards are out of copyright.
    It was asked if lyrics of songs could be, and it was advised that the copyright file should be consulted.
   All effort should be made to find the copyright holder, and this should be stated. All care should be taken to avoid legal infringement. It was also deemed to be wise to try to protect your own work.

Penny mentioned the facebook page, and needs someone to help run it. (

Writing Buddies will be five years old in 2014 and it has grown from 10 at the first meeting on 2nd May 2009, to over 50 members today. Penny has decided it needs to add more content to each meeting. The last half hour of each meeting would be devoted to a writing related topic, to tap into the experts amongst the group. Different aspects such as publishing trials and tribulations, marketing, punctuation, self publishing and support for independent bookshops were all put forward as possible subjects for these sessions.  Penny will take this forward.

Mention was made about the blog:; which will also contain more useful content in 2014.

The Writing Buddies were looking forward to the Christmas break and to catching up again at the next meeting, on Friday 7 February 2014.