Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Sad Songs, Lipstick Lesbians and Mince Pies.

Christmas fever had stricken the Writers´Circle today slashing the numbers to a select gathering of 11 members who had battled their way to the Olympia Bar despite Christmas Day looming on the horizon.

Under the benevolent leadership of the sub-sub-Chairman, Ian, a very pleasant and relaxed morning was spent. Cake, made by the nimble hands of Jane her very self was consumed at the break, followed by Anne´s shortbread, Chris´Norwegian ginger snaps and then mince pies produced with a flourish, once more by Jane. At some point a mini lecture on lesbians was given by Kelle, don´t ask me why, I can´t remember, probably due to the fact that a generous helping of brandy had been added to my coffee by the barman as a gesture of yuletide generosity. But it was very interesting.

Gerry had splendid news. A story of his, which he had read in the group a short while back, "The Old Ranger", is to be published in the February edition of Frontier Tales. Congrats! Well done!!

We eventually got round to the business of the day .

Cynthia had written an email Round Robin by a lady who had finally snapped and put a knife into her spouse and was saying a last goodbye to friends and family before leaving for foreign parts never (she hoped) to be seen again. Very funny.

Mary M wrote about men met through dancing and gave them marks out of ten for their personality and twinkle-toed ability.

Jane´s contribution was a rant about the inability of the UK to cope with the winter weather.

Kelle had a love poem, which is included here in the blog. Very moving.

Chris wrote an anti-Christmas poem, which the sub-sub-chairman thought should be included in the blog.

Brenda had a further excerpt from her novel about Belle. Very well written it was, too.

Heather had a short poem "Sad Songs", which I meant to ask her to give me to include here, but I forgot. (Blame the brandy.)

Finally the SSC, Ian, read a short story called "The Folksinger" about how a member of an Irish folkgroup gets the inspiration to write a sad song.

Have a good Christmas!

Chris J ( See below for poems)

If my love for you were dance I would dance to the end of eternity.

When you charter your own ship
To sail the seven seas
And undertake great adventures alone
Battling with long dead demons.

In the middle of your longest, darkest night
When you fear the world has forsaken you
Polish this silver pearl
And be sure that you are loved.

For somebody, somewhere
Dances for joy
And Eternity
Because you are in the world.

Bah! Humbug!

I don´t know whether to laugh or cry
I don´t know if I should scream or sigh
It´s that time of the year when you have to choose
To be cheerful and happy or take to the booze.

I never buy presents nor choose any cards
Nor write zany emails and send my regards.
I loathe sherry parties and eating mince pies
Getting trapped under misteltoe kissing weird guys.

I chase carol singers away from my door
I find snowmen and reindeer a bloody great bore.
I really hate tinsel and glittery trees
And holly and ivy - they just make me sneeze.

I wish I could hibernate - sleep it away
Wake up in the springtime - miss Santa and sleigh!
If Christmas came at Leap Year it would suit me very well
I´d get some good books and check into a motel.

I´d take along my laptop and surf around the Net
Do anything I want to - maybe place a bet!
I´d order in some pizzas and open up some wine
I´d snooze and snack and tipple - it would be just divine!

When the holidays were over I´d come out of my lair
And say I´d been in hospital so everyone would care.
No-one would be angry, they´d all feel really bad
They´d been having such a good time while I was feeling sad.

So I´d be extra gleeful if I spoiled their Yuletide cheer
Give them a guilty conscience and to their eyes bring a tear.
I´d start to treasure Christmas - look forward to it all
If I could trash their daydreams, I think I´d have a ball!

Monday, 21 December 2009

DC Fails Late Fitness Test

The Deputy Chairman who was to have chaired this week's meeting unfortunately cannot attend to carry out his duties - he wishes to thank in advance Ian for standing in.

By Wednesday El Gordo might have solved all our problems - these are the numbers which hold our fate.

Happy Christmas everyone, and hope to see you on the 30th.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Homeless or lonely men, abandoned dogs, a grandad with Alzheimer's disease - it must be the bad weather that has got our members depressed!

Nik told the meeting about a magazine called Midnight Street. He had written a story for them in 2008 and it had only just got printed, which illustrated the virtues of perseverance and persistence.
There were apologies from Rob, Christine, Ian, and Jen.

Mary Morris read a story written a while ago called ‘Searching for power’. Sam, a lonely character, lived in a dilapidated cottage with a beautiful garden. He was a water diviner. The narrator had asked him to visit regarding the availability of water on a site where she wanted to build a house. An airmail envelope arrived from his son who now works for Red Adair putting out fires. Nik said she needed to introduce herself as the narrator, and the story needed more conflict and tension.

Douglas‘s contribution was a story about a homeless man accompanied by a small terrier dog who looked as tatty as his owner. They sheltered in a barn where there was dry hay. A youth set fire to the hay and the man and dog were taken into the farmhouse and fed. This was a turning point back to normality for them. Nik said we needed to know more about why the man left his house. There was some author intrusion; the narrator has told us something rather than the information coming through the eye of the character.

Alan’s story was called ‘Persistence pays’ which was about a mongrel who had been dumped on the street. He followed a man to his home and was eventually taken in, ah. Members thought it was a very funny story and that his writing had improved a lot since he had joined us.

Mary K read out a limerick. ‘There was a young man in Japan whose limericks never would scan.’ Very humorous. Then a poem about wedded bliss. That didn’t seem to last very long, how true to life. Nik thought it could be sent to Navy News.

A new member, Michael Walsh, introduced himself. He has been in the Costas 10 years and was originally from Liverpool, and takes writing seriously. He thought that the worldwide web had increased the possibilities for writers to get their work published.

Brenda continued her novel. The narrator reads Elizabeth’s diary written in her last few days of life. It explains her lack of warmth towards her daughter. ‘My dear Minerva I found it easier to give affection to sons rather than daughters. I love you in my own way. I hope you are happy. Your mother Elizabeth.’ The narrator felt sorry for Elizabeth. Brenda was advised to edit out the clichés.

Heinke has written a story for Flash Fiction, which had to be no more than 75 words, concerning an air flight where two people shared the arm rest.

Glyn continued his story of Ned’s first day at apprentice College. It told of Ned complaining about the food and an ensuing punch up where Ned learned the wisdom of palling up with someone stronger than himself, Scouse Jock. Entertaining as ever.

Heather wrote about a mother being given a ticket to go to a show in London with her daughter but not being able to go because she couldn’t leave her husband to look after her father who had Alzheimer’s. 'I can’t leave your granddad, you know that.‘ The old man’s great grandson Jamie came in with a balloon. The old man’s arm shot out and played with the balloon, while everyone else was arguing. He and Jamie shared a secret smile before he withdrew back inside himself. ‘It was the best Christmas present I ever had.‘ Nik liked much of the wording used, ‘I used to think his head was like a honeycomb, like a deep dark forest, in another universe’ but the title ‘The Christmas present’ gave the game away. Once again a very readable story.

As ever there was excellent advice from Nik. Next week’s themes are Sad Songs or The Passing. Oh no, not more doom and gloom.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

It's being so cheerful that keeps us going!

Ian was the deputy chairman to the deputy chairman, Rob and Nik both being absent, and started the readings with a poem about the mother of the bride being mortified because someone else had the same hat on as she had, although she had been told by the shop where she bought it that all their hats were unique. He also read a poem about this week’s subject ‘Santa didn’t come’. It was a sad poem about a little boy wishing for his daddy to come back, who had been killed in Afghanistan.
Jenny read out a poem called BARSTOOL BABE, which is here below:

Sunbed brown
Diet thin
Platformed feet
Wrinkled skin
Too-tight jeans
Hair bleach dried
Lipstick bright
Tattooed backside
Fag-stained fingers
See-through top
Eyes glazed over
Fit to drop
Every night
On barstool sits
Belly pierced
Silicone tits

By Jenny Kearney

Glyn read out a poem that he had tightened up with the aid of Chris. It was entitled ‘TIME’. ‘I wonder where those seconds went.’ It showed Glyn’s romantic side. Yes he has got one.
He also read a poem written by his son Dylan, who was named after the famous Welshman Dylan Thomas, Glyn’s favourite author. ‘Of course I love you’ it began and ended ‘Shut up while the football’s on and fetch another beer’. A son after Glyn’s heart.
Heather’s story was called ‘Somebody to Love’ and concerned the narrator’s love for a person glimpsed in the street. The writer finds out where he lives but fears she will lose what she has not yet had if she approaches him. The story highlighted the blurring of love and obsession. The group thought it was an intense and brilliant story and very well written. The general impression was that the writer was a stalker.
Mary 1’s poem was called ‘All at Sea’. It was about a list of things to do before she reached 40. We all looked askance at this; not wanting to point out that she maybe was a bit late in the day for that ambition. Glyn asked if the poem was written on parchment. That was putting it a bit strong! Her number 1 thing to do was go on a cruise where she would have a ball.

Jane’s contribution was a poem written after watching a TV programme about the conditions that dementia sufferers live under. ‘Hooray for Geoffrey Robinson.’ He had conducted an investigation into the homes and it was sad beyond belief.
It’s being so cheerful that keeps us going!
There was nobody else to read - we all scrabbled in our bags for old stories to read at this juncture, but couldn’t find any - so we had hot pen in the second half. We looked at the picture on the front of the Coastal Press, which pictured a little girl and a small tree circled with stones. Christina wrote about a dog that had died and was buried under the tree, Heinke wrote about the tree being a little tree of hope, Heather wrote about the forest being indifferent, a monstrous regiment. Brenda’s story was about a mother looking for her little girl who was nowhere to be seen. She didn’t have time to finish it but the exercise had motivated her to finish the story for another time.
Mary 2’s contribution was about planting a sapling which would grow into a tree. Mary 3’s story was going to be about a little girl adopted by her sister and when the family secret was revealed no one would believe it. She will finish the story another time.
Kelle said the little girl reminded her of her foster children; two girls aged 6 and 9. The little girls’ mum put them into care and never came back for them.
Another excellent meeting.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Our Heinke is becoming Famous

You might be interested to read this article about our Heinke, fast becoming a famous TWCer.

Heinke's article

PS For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Heinke's dog, Misty Blue, her photo is attached. She is also becoming famous, but still rather shy.

For more see her blog, which appears on our blog list (look right)


What is Poetry?

Discovered a great new site which via videos answer anything about everything - try this one first. Click on arrow head to play

Poetry Basics

If you want more go here

You will have to register to view.

Friday, 4 December 2009


Nik read out the story which will be published in the Winter edition of the magazine Telling Tales - “Remorseless Time”, which is about behaviour control in the near-future. He also read out the Secret Seven Sins committed by many contestants in the recent Harlequin novel competition...

Glyn continued his novel about Ned and his first day in the Army. The recruits were all starving and making their way to the cookhouse at dawn. They could see the food there which was for special people like the boxing team, which consisted of sausage, bacon and all the trimmings. Unfortunately that food was taken away and replaced by PSE, processed scrambled eggs, dried up beans, and sausages which looked like pigs' willies, and thick lumpy porridge. The recruits thought the food could not taste worse than it looked but they were wrong. Everyone enjoyed the continuing saga.

Nik said, "It was food for thought" and Rob said, "Don’t egg him on." When will the puns dry up? Is there an association called Puns Anonymous which they could be sent to for treatment?

Ian read a story called “The cutting edge.” The main character was a surgeon and it was his job to perform the tricky operation. They were in Camp bastion, Helmund province, Afghanistan where it is not unknown for soldiers to be blown up by IEDs. The surgeon removed the layers of flesh, then .... there was a very neat twist at the end which I won’t reveal. Everyone thought it was a cracking story and festive to boot.

Joy read a poem called “Life’s a bitch’ about having a tooth abscess and root canal problems which gave her a rash; the antibiotics the doctor gave her made her face swollen and she was off to Benidorm for the weekend not being able to have a drink, while her friends were drinking wine. One bonus was that the swelling smoothed all her wrinkles out. If only that could be patented! Enjoyable as always.

Jenny read a poem about complacency. It was about a homeless person and was very sad. The past was best forgotten and there was no future.

Mary’s story was about the time when she was a teacher called “Flash of fame”. It concerned a visit from Blue Peter. She was thrust into the limelight against her wishes and a programme appeared on Panorama and Blue Peter showing her in her baggy tracky bottoms, which she had tried to avoid. Her stories are always good fun.

Mary M read a poem about random thoughts:
As I lie in my bed many thoughts go through my head
The smell of granny’s baking bread, news of children not being fed
Many bodies lying dead, standing near the garden shed
The bonfire turning faces red, little puppies being bred to test the drugs and give them cred
Wish lists up the chimney sped, Santa coming on his sled
The step on the stairs bringing dread, the beating after which you bled
The holy bible being read, the rosary being said

Heather’s story concerned a single mum and her baby. “Mrs M will be round saying oh poor you when really she wanted to make sure the baby was being looked after OK”. “Most men think babies are a pain in the arse!” How true that is. The girl admits she was stupid to have this baby. She should have talked like a ‘les’ then she wouldn’t have strayed in the graveyard with Jay. She didn’t mind being pregnant because people had to talk to her, and there was a lot of fuss. “When did it fade into nothing? This world is shite and there is only me to blame.” Everybody thought it was a fabulous story and very sad. Jenny suggested that it could be read at a performance evening where there could also be poetry reading.

Maureen read out something which she wrote for the Lonely Planet website: “Africa the hard way, a beginner’s guide.” It told of a holiday where the kitty was seldom enough to provide meals as it had to provide the driver with his beer. Africa proved not as romantic for the travellers as they had imagined. Following several mishaps eventually their battered transport gave out in the Namibian desert. Maureen said the holiday was, however, fabulous.

Gerry’s contribution was about justice. The jury said not guilty even though everyone knew the people in the dock had done it. An old couple had been attacked in their home, the police found the husband dead and the old lady died 2 days later. Loopholes used by the defence counsel meant that both brothers were acquitted. Rick was the grandson of the old couple and was determined to wreak vengeance for their death. He texted the eldest brother, "You are about to die." That was half of the story so we wait to hear if the brothers got their just desserts. Very entertaining.

I think I forgot someone, apologies for that.

That was the end of another good meeting.


Saturday, 28 November 2009

More E-book Information

I thought you might like to take a look at a short BBC video from their technology programme 'Click'

Just a shame they seem to have found a presenter with the most boring monotonous voice in the world:

Just click here:

Friday, 27 November 2009

The Dreaded Hot Pen Strikes Again!!

Could it have been the lovely weather that lured members off to sit in the sun? Or could it have been that Wednesday was the regular HOT PEN DAY? Perhaps it was simply that the last meeting was bursting at the seams so "only fifteen" members appeared a bit thin on the ground when, in fact, it´s quite a respectable attendance.

The meeting started with a demonstration by TJ of his new aquisition, the Ebook from Amazon, Kindle. He´d only just got it so wasn´t sure of all the functions but was obviously a converted
Ebook man. I must say, it looked very neat (fits into a jacket pocket) and can increase print size to something akin to the bottom line on the optician´s chart, which suits me just fine. It can hold masses of books (did he say 1500?) so if that´s right, it would cover my holiday reading adequately. Only snag was the cost, around 200 dollars, so I´ll wait till the price reaches my level, but for those of you with a generous budget, it´s the perfect Christmas gift.

We then went on, led by our illustrious chairman, to do a very useful exercise in editing. The piece was from a recently published item which really shouldn´t have seen the light of public day. However, it sufficed to help us all see what sort of things we should be looking out to avoid in our own writing. Good exercise, Nik.

After the break we finally got on to the meat of the day, the HOT PEN (!!!+? ¤!!!).

The words chosen were Saw and Found.
After 10 minutes of feverish activity, we listened to the results.

kicked off with a good piece, except for the fact that, absentmindedly, she had forgotten to include her chosen word!

Gerry produced an amusing poem - SEE BELOW.

Heather wrote a piece about how she found her husband at a car boot. ( She didn´t say whether or not he was a bargain).

Ann Flynn described a woman observing a shoplifter.

Chris wrote about a young boy finding a bloody saw in his gran´s basement.

Ann B´s poem told of a Scotsman´s pound note found by an Englishman.

Maureen Moss´s
piece was about kids disobeying parents

Ian told of a woodcutter finding a racoon in his shed.

Henke, as is her wont, went over the top with her description of a warring couple who decide to divorce and divide the house by cutting it in half with a chainsaw!

Alan, new to the hot pen exercise, declared he hadn´t really understood what to do and wrote a very short, factual piece. Now you know, Alan, with Heinke´s example in mind, the sky´s the limit!

Glyn´s piece centered on a businessman in Thailand looking for an evening´s entertainment.

Finally, Nik wrote about a man entering No Man´s Land to infiltrate athe enemy´s secret bunker. It sounded like the beginning of a rattling good thriller.

It never ceases to amaze and impress, how varied and interesting the results are even when we all have the same starting point.

With that, another very pleasant and instructive meeting was over.

Hasta la próxima vez! Chris J
Gerry´s poem follows

It´s Wednesday morning and here we are
Just a few minutes out of the bar

It´s hot pen time and I´m searching around
The word is Saw.... or is it Found?

It could be Found, not neccessarily Saw
I´m totally lost and very unsure.

Perhaps by the end I´ll have made up my mind
But as time goes on I´m in more of a bind.

I must move fast, I mustn´t linger
When I used a saw last, I cut my finger.

It bled like crazy, blood all around
A bandage, a plaster, not one could be found.

So I think I´ll plan slowly and maybe then
I think I`ll get better at wring Hot Pen.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Poets' Corner

The reason for this week's title will become obvious.

This week's subject titles were: "I know he was only a dog..." or
"Doom and Gloom".

Another well attended meeting with 20 members being present.

Nik kicked off with the opening to a short story entitled "Golf Lynx" where early morning golfers make a gruesome find in one of the sand traps. We all await the outcome.

Cynthia's effort was poem (number 1) on the subject "Doom and Gloom". With the title "The Crisis", it gave a humerous point of view from a woman.

Gerry asked for feedback to his cowboy yarn "The Old Ranger" as he feels that he is still learning the craft. Members thought that his story was much better and tighter than some of his others. It was suggested that he could tell more of the backstory through the use of dialogue and that the use of character names could be better employed.

Lisa unusually read a poem (number 2) dealing with "Doom and Gloom". It's title "Miss Haversham Remembered" took us back to our reading of Dickens. This piece was very visual with its dust and cobwebs etc, but with a modern slant.

Jane gave us a poem (number 3) on "Doom etc" but from the viewpoint of one who hates visitors whose sole topics of conversation are painting nothing but misery. This was a rant against some people she knew.

Ann F narrated a piece of nonsense called "No Big Deal". This was like a spoof version of the TV show "Deal or No Deal" and, for those of us who have seen the show, it was extremely lifelike. It was suggested that with a bit of polishing and enlargement this could be sent off to a number of sketch shows who might be interested in it.

Poem (number 4), can you guess on what subject?, was provided by Chris. Now this was full of Doom and gloom but at least had a happy ending!

Mary's poetic rant called "Frilly or Plain" was her marketplace observations on the choice and purchase of knickers. The female view was practicality at all times where the male partner in the relationship suggested something more skimpy and frilly. Guess who won? Has potential for sending out, with an appropriate title - Brief Encounter, maybe.

Ian's piece "The Letter" was the opening for what will be a longer item. Based on "Doom and Gloom", it left the members wondering what the outcome was going to be. This was thought to be a very descriptive piece of writing with good visualisation.

During the break it was agreed that we would buy 3 Xmas Lottery/el Gordo tickets. There was also some discussion on whether we should extend the meeting times and various options were put forward. It was agreed that we should continue with the current arrangements but with the proviso that if we felt we should go on later that this could be an ad hoc arrangement.

Glyn gave us the start of the 4th chapter of his novel on army life and dealt with such subjects as lusting after Brigitte Bardot, breaking wind and trying to please the recruits' officers. This was not neccessarily in that order but was of course up to Glyn's usual high standard.

Brenda completed this week's offerings with another part of Belle's story. This was a new chapter to everyone and various suggestions were made to Brenda including one that the last piece should be omitted from the chapter to leave the reader in suspense and open the next chapter with that information.

Next week it is a HOT PEN day but as well as this Nik is going to provide an insight into the breakthrough novel.


Friday, 20 November 2009


Love it or hate it, the new 'social' web sites bring people closer together. We - the TWC - are now on Facebook and have just received a message from Phil McNulty:

Good to see some photographs and news. Not been able to attend recently as planned. Never mind. Look forward to attending meetings in the future. Best of luck with the writing. Really appreciate updates on comps etc, Nik and Rob. All the best. Phil

The world is truly a smaller place. Sometimes maybe that is good?


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Picture This

From the archives... Before Douglas went off to the antipodes in 2007, he took these photos of our group.

The above shows Lisa and Nik.

The above shows Joy, Mary, Mary, Ian, Arthur and Christina.
Posted by Nik, photos by Douglas.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Kindle - Wireless Reading Device

This is a video which shows what a Kindle is, what it can do and how it does it - amazing, worth a look:

Thursday, 12 November 2009

A Full House

The meeting held on 11th November was well attended with 24 Members present.

Prior to commencement Nik announced that at midday (11 o'clock in the UK) we would observe two minutes' silence. There were also a number of announcements including distribution of new themes lists for those who were not on the internet, consideration of Lottery numbers, competition lists and a copy of "The New Writer".

Maureen showed the meeting a copy of a book on marketing including publishing.

Ann F remarked on a book she had just read, "On Chesil Beach" where the book contained no dialogue between the two protagnists which she found most disconcerting.

The meeting started with readings from those members who had been left over from last week.

Maureen first of all read out a poem "The World" not written by her but which inspired her to write her piece entitled "What It Is". This was quite profound and contemplative. It was thought to be well written but some suggestions were made to improve the style.

Glyn asked for feedback on his synopsis of his novel which has been renamed,"Tits, Toenails and Donkey Dick". Everyone thought that he had captured the characters well although it was possibly too lengthy and he should indicate the era in which the story is set.

Heinke also gave us a synopsis except that this book still has to be written. The plot centres around a love story on a Space Station in a future world with one of characters having a pet giraffe called Rafi. The members thought this excellent and wanted more.

This week's themes were, "If Only I Hadn't Drunk So Much" or "The Crisis".

Christina read a poem/rant about a visit to Rome and the effects of drink.

Rob ventured forth with a humorous piece on the effects of the banking crisis where the hero is a Mr. G. Ullible and the merchant banker is named Mickey Taker. Rob was encouraged to progress this piece of work.

At the break two minutes' silence was observed then Nik asked everyone to consider if we needed time extensions as the meetings were now so well attended, members were not always able to read that week. Nothing was settled, however, so it's 'wait and see...'

The meeting continued with Pat giving us a further insight into a child's life in WWII.

Mary M chose the drink theme to give us a poem on drowning our sorrows.

Chris's poem "Water Works" was a poem which took an unusual slant on this week's theme.

Mary K had a tale albeit true on a series of disasters which had befallen her and resulted in her missing last week's session. A rhyming teacher's note?

Ian's poem on the drink theme was entitled "The Worse For Wear" which a lot of members recognised...

New member Alan's contribution was about "A Free Meal" which concluded that there was no such thing.

Jenny's item on the drink theme was the story of a wedding day escapade.

Last but by no means least Kelle read a rant on "Times Remembered", being an introduction to a proposed longer work. How many of us recalled the things she itemised? Quite a few!

Before the meeting broke up, discussion took place on a venue for Christmas/New Year meal. It was suggested the members should make enquiries about costs, availability etc. Tentative date would be 13th Jan with about 30 attending.


Saturday, 7 November 2009


Some very good stories and poems were read out this week.

Mary Morris continued her story about the little girl whose parents split up. This part was called The Robbery because it reflected the girl taking the red shoes of the lady - Aunt Ciss - who took her daddy away from the family. The feelings of the little girl came over very well. She was encouraged to send the story off to a magazine

Chris read a story entitled Soft option, one of the themes this week, in which she told of the time when she met her husband to be Len in Famagusta. He was going back to Sweden and asked her to go with him, which was the Soft Option. If going to Sweden seemed a soft option it certainly did not prove to be so. So many things were different, doors open outwards, soured milk was mistaken for milk, people making a loud noise is put down to being drunk, punctuality is sacrosanct, shoes are taken off inside the house, the host has to take the first drink at a dinner party etc. etc. Chris said that although moving to Spain has its difficulties it is easy compared to Sweden. As she put it, ‘If your life comes to cross roads and something seems to be a soft option, it may be more than you bargained for.’

Douglas’s story was called ‘Smoke gets in your eyes’ and related to a wealthy lawyer who liked to smoke Cuban cigars. He arranged for insurance cover for the cigars and smoked one each evening until the box was empty. He made a claim the following day saying that the cigars had been lost in a series of small fires. The judge said the case was frivolous but nevertheless he expected the insurers to make due restitution. The insurance firm, Arrogant Insurance, paid out a large sum to the lawyer rather than pay for appeals. The following Monday the police arrested him for arson and the insurers won back the money. Apparently it was in part based on truth. Everyone agreed it was a brilliant story.

Kellee read part of a long story about a relationship breaking up. ‘It was 3 years since we met and you ended our relationship.’ The story involved best friends falling out and saying words that cannot be taken back. The narrator had written a letter in which she reminisced about being in an ugly house in the ugliest village in Spain after the owner had thrown himself under a train. The description of the smell of nicotine and the cloud of spores that came out of a pile of old towels was very evocative. Kellee has a compelling writing style.

Alan, a newcomer to the group who had come along to see if he will fit in, told us a little about himself and had written a piece about his daily life. He talked of getting up early at 10 o’clock!! He didn’t feel he needed to make excuses for doing nothing. Three wives later he is renting here in Spain, after providing each one of them with a house. It sounds as if there will be a few stories for him to tell. He is allowed 2 glasses of red wine a day and a perfect end to a perfect day entailed eating a large pud. He sounds as if he will fit in very well with the group!

Ian’s contribution was a poem on the subject ’the last hidden beauty in the world’ which was yet another of his lovely poems about the Scottish painter Jack Vettriano and hopefully he is going to put it on the blog.

Gerry wrote a yarn about a Confederate soldier Zak going to his aunt’s house in Union territory after the war. He took a shine to Lizzy, the daughter of Clinton Craddock (I wonder if his wife was called Fanny) the local hard man, ‘a mean son of a bitch.’ He comes to the aid of Lizzy and Clinton when Clinton is attacked by a grizzly bear and stays on to care for him. Once he is better Clinton was heard to say ’You let that Reb in here?’ The story ends happily with Zak and Lizzy getting married, ooh bless.
Gerry was advised to check his work with, which will tell him how many repetitions of the same word are in the story.

I told the circle about There are some adverts on the TV about people confessing to eating somebody else’s sandwich. Each month someone will win £250 in Red Letter Day vouchers and there is also a chance that your confession could feature on their packs. You are given a space to put your confession in and you can use a maximum of 150 characters. You can also look at what other people have sent in as examples of confessions.

Next week’s topics are ‘If only I hadn’t drunk so much’ (we can all relate to that) or ‘The crisis.’

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Answer is a Hot Pen

Today 17 members attended maintaining the average attendance, so it shows that the members are not afraid of a "Hot Pen".

Nik introduced a potential new member, Mel, who gave a brief resume on her writing of short stories and poetry.

Nik also advised that he has taken out, on behalf of "the Circle" a subscription on a new magazine, "Telling Tales".

The word (s) chosen at random for this week's were "answer/answering". The time limit for producing a written piece on the word was ten minutes.

Maureen gave us a short story about the "murder" and subsequent burial of a small bird.

Christina provided two endings to her poem. The first being about a cat, the other about snoring.

Douglas told the story of an offer of money.

Heather narrated her story about inheritance but this was much more than money.

Pat returned to her favourite subject of dogs when the heroine's dilemna was solved by her pet pooch.

Jane gave us a tale where health and safety directives outweighed common sense.

Chris related a tale about the working of an answering machine.

Ann F told the story of an office romance that finally came to fruition.

Mary had written a piece about vengenance expounding the theory that "Hell hath no fury.....".

Jenny gave us a poem about professionalism.

Ian's piece was about his hero searching for his girlfriend to obtain an answer to his proposal.

Kelly's offering was similar to Ian's but was more about the technology of the answering machine.
Heinke's offering ended up with a discussion on pubic hair wigs. Yes, folks, pubic hair wigs!

Mel then gave a short, profound piece on dealing with the question.

Glyn's story was of a Nigerian con man arriving at his hero's door.

Nik's tale was of a reporter looking for his interviewee on her partner's allotment.

After the break, some members provided readings.

Glyn read his reworked version of "A New Life" which is a November competition entry. A few minor alterations were suggested which it was hoped would "tighten" the story.

Heinke told the story of a 7 year old child's holiday visit to Iceland. (The country, not the frozen food store). Imagery was good and the pace of the tale was good.

Mary's offering was a letter to a publisher and accompanying poem written by a potential poet who thought they were God's gift to poetry. This was not the way to go about having work published.

Ann F gave us a rant about one of her pet subjects - the use of foreign language words and phrases in books. Ann emphasised her point by using the very things she detests.

Heather's piece entitled "To see ourselves as others see us" related good comments about real people. Members thought this very good but suggested that a change in title was required.

Last but by no means least Douglas gave us the third part of his autobiographical time in Egypt.

Time overtook the meeting but it just shows that there is talent in "the Circle" that a simple word can conjure up so many images in a Hot Pen and that the general readings are also so diverse.

Roll on next week!!


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Post Meeting Nosh-Up at Glyn and Judy´s.

After today´s meeting, members went to Glyn´s place where his wife Judy had put on a marvellous lunch. Those who missed the occasion - curl up and die! Thanks on behalf of all those invited for a great lunch and a lovely afternoon.

The meeting itself was, as usual very interesting and entertaining. Nice to see Ann F and Heinke back again .

The subject s for the day were Dear John, or The Postman.

Having declared her contribution as "Rubbish", Jane proceded to read out a poem which clearly was not. (How about some assertion courses, Jane?). It told the moving story of the relationship between a postie and a spinster lady which ended when he finds her dead one morning.

Chris read a poem "Dear John" about a flighty lady determined to get the best out of life and any men unwary enough to fall for her charms.

Heinke´s short story, read at her usual cracking pace (slow down, Heinke!), was a fascinating tale of postie Eddy who meets his fate in the passionate embrace of Concha, a Spanish lady newly moved into a flat on his round. Really funny.

Congratulations to Heinke on the publication of her book "Camping WithWolves."

Rob moved out of his comfort zone and yet again tried his hand at poetry in a series of short pieces with a postie theme. Well done, Rob!

Mary Wignall, a former member, obviously still writes, as Mary K , a friend of hers, read out a poem about a lady who sends off a WLTM letter to a newspaper, gets 410 replies and ends up marrying the postie who brings them!

The other members came up with a variety of subjects.

Joy read a poem she´d written for her church magazine with a moving relgious theme. Good on you Joy! Keep on writing and daring to read things out!

Mary K wrote a poem about a woman´s secret lover, whose son she meets many years after the affair is over and because of whom the man never left his wife. Unusual.

Nik read a piece about Michael Parker, whose book "Hell´s Gate" was written and rewritten numerous times, rejected over and over and finally accepted after many years. Nik´s point was to show that a writer should have a huge dollop of self-belief and perseverence in order to keep going when it seems that nobody wants the stuff you´re writing. Never give up and never get rid of things you write, he says - you may well be able to tweak it into shape and get it accepted one day.

The final three members who read today are all writing novels or long accounts.

Douglas continued his account of life in the army during the forties and fifties, which he is writing, first and foremost, for his family. The description of the dhobi wallah spraying out a starch mixture through his teeth as he ironed the men´s uniforms was priceless!Everyone thought it was fascinating but could be given even more detail to make it clearer to generations who´ve never heard of the Ivy Benson Girl Band or ENSA.

Pat read a further part of the self biography of her life as a child evacuated to Wales during the Blitz. Her descriptions of the miners returning home after their shifts and of the slag heaps surrounding the village were very evocative.

Glyn asked for the group´s opinion on a synopsis he´d written to send in with the first three chapters of his book. Nik, who´s had experience of this, thought the one and a half pages Glyn had written was too short and he needed to expand it and include more of the humour of the novel. The synopsis is there to make somebody want to read the book and Glyn wasn´t doing justice to himself. The humour of the book has to come through much more, it was felt. Back to the drawing board, Glyn!

So ended yet another enjoyable Wednesday morning.

Chris J

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Do you ever say 'albeit' ?

The theme for this week was 'A Chance Encounter', which I think you could say is appropriate for the picture here.

But before I go on, a reminder to all TWC members that directly after the coming meeting on Wednesday 21 October, everyone is invited to Glyn´s place for a barbecue. If you don´t know where it is, but are coming to the meeting, you can follow those cars which are going. If you´re not going to the meeting, phone Glyn for directions. The invite is for drinks and grub and you don´t need to take anything unless you have ' special needs.'

Now, down to business. A pleasant, sunny day and a relaxed atmosphere gave a very nice meeting. As already mentioned the theme was 'A Chance Encounter'. Four members came up with something on this theme.

Mary Morris wrote a story about Land Girls in the Second World War on a day out at the village fete. A palm reading in the gipsy tent warns them all of a large, dark shape. It turns out to be a lorry driven by some army chaps, which knocks them off their bikes. However, it is an encounter which ends safely and has promise of future romance. It was a pleasant story but lacked conflict to give it a bit more spice, felt Nik. There was a need for more dialogue and perhaps even a change in the order of events. Some work on it, however, would probably make it acceptable to a magazine. Off you go, Mary!

Alan told the politically ironic story of a British Prime Minister faced with the prospect of a disaster when a meteorite is about to hit London. He is more concerned about the votes he might lose rather than anything else.
Well written and amusing, albeit cynical.
Nik complained of the use of albeit in somebody´s work as rather literary but look! It slipped out quite easily here, didn´t it?

Ann Flynn´s story was about two young people who meet at a hotel near the First World War battlefields and discover that their families have quite a bit in common. A very good story but the dialogue bogeyman surfaced again and it was thought that a lot of the back story would be better dealt with as dialogue between Danny and Sophie, the main characters. The story was, Ann said, true, but Nik emphasised that you´re allowed to bend the truth if it gives you a more effective story.

Jenny wrote a short poem describing a meeting, after many years, between two former friends in a doctor´s surgery, where the news is bad for one of them. Very effective in such a short piece.
The other members´pieces were a mixed bag of subjects.

Jen wrote a poem which was originally intended to be the lyrics to a piece of music 'Soleado' by Zacar. Unfortunately, Johnny Mathis beat her to it when he recorded the Christmas song ' When a Child is Born.' See the end of the blog for Jen´s version.

Chris wrote a piece about ways of saying things in different languages. It rambled a bit since it wasn´t, as she admitted really well thought out. However, the neat little Spanish phrase 'Ni fu, Ni fa' was brought to light, meaning 'So-So'.

Mary Kilduff´s contribution was a poem about members of the TWC. She picked out a few verses for inclusion in the blog. See the end of the blog.

Jane´s very short poem was about how she absent-mindedly managed to put cat food in her tea. ( We´ll have to keep an eye on her at Glyn´s barbecue - nail down the chilli sauce!!).

Glyn ended the readings with a rewrite he´d done of chapter 3 of his novel. He´d cut out about four hundred words and it was much tighter.

Here follow the poem´s above mentioned.


When spring awakes a new year is born;
When winter´s past, wanton and forlorn;
Through the mists of time, see new life appear;
Love blooms at last when the spring is here.

When love is young, shining like the sun;
When beauty reigns and true hearts are one;
When blossom sweet dances in the air,
And hands entwine, hopefull, free of care.

The year grows old, seasons come and go;
And summer fades into autumn´s glow;
Tho´beauty wanes, love will never die;
Sweet melodies soaring to the sky.

When apples ripe, juicy to the core,
With dew bedecked tumble to the floor;
A cup of cheer, fruit as sweet as wine;
Red skies on fire, nearing Harvest-time.

So summer´s gone, golden leaves are cast;
Then earth grows cold, slumbering at last;
Those autumn years, better than the best;
In wisdom grown, hearts and minds at rest.

Mary Kilduff´s.

Chris´s poems are a laugh a minute
This lady seems to have no limit
She really makes us split our sides
As some helpless male she oft derides.

Ann doesn´t have much time to kill
Between doing the drinks and minding the till
But if the occasion arose
She´d thrill us with her poetry and prose.

Cynthia as well is quite inspired
Of listening to her I´ve never tired
She says she was a court reporter
But I think she´s really Shakespeare´s daughter.

Joy writes mostly from true life
A mixture of happiness and strife
She writes about the things she knows
Like that school teacher with the snotty nose.

There´s nearly always a tale of woe
As Maureen takes us to and fro
From east to west from coast to coast
She tells us all what she misses most
She´ll just have to learn before she´s through
To say in every language 'Where´s the loo?'

Now when it comes to dear old Glyn
I just do not know where to begin
He´s a real master of the art
From the biggest tits to the loudest fart.

See you all next week.

Chris J

Friday, 9 October 2009

Feeling hot, hot hot (especially at Mary's story)

Nik started off by reading the introduction to his collection of Leon Cazador short stories – essentially, a potted biography of his main character, Leon, which read as if it was a real person!

Rob had written a review of a book by Ken Follet - A Dangerous Fortune. The story is about a battle within the Pilasters, a great banking family from the 1800’s. Rob thought some points were over elaborated and tended to insult the reader. Follett could have omitted some of the explanations and left it to the reader to figure it out.

Rob said that Follett tackles different subjects in his books but he was not over-enthusiastic about this one. Nik said that Follett is fetured in ALbert Zuckerman's book Writing the Blockbuster novel. Zuckerman was Follett's agent; he also uses Gone With the Wind and The Godfather to pepper the book with useful examples.

Glyn read out an edited version of the third chapter of his book about the Army Apprentice College at Chepstow. It was their first day and the new recruits had to listen to talks by various people. Matron came on to the podium, she said her door was always open if they wanted to speak to her, she talked of cold showers (I wonder why); she said many of them would be missing their families, whereas in fact they had joined up to get away from them.

Three padres then stepped up, one Church of England, one Catholic and one to cover the rest. They announced twice weekly services to commemorate the two world wars. Atheists and agnostics had to wait outside so you wouldn’t get out of going by saying they were not C of E or Catholic. Glen had contemplated saying he was a druid because they got to shag all the virgins.

Next up were Diane, who ran the NAAFI shop, and Cherie who ran the NAAFI club. They had the full attention of the young men. Diane was 30 and comely whereas Cherie was in her late teens with long legs and a large bosom ‘asking to be caressed’. Her bra size was BS, bloody stupendous. The two girls were nicknamed ‘tits and toenails’.

There were a few helpful comments but it was thought to have been well edited and painted a good picture of life as a recruit in the Army at the time.

Brenda read out chapter 2 of her book. Kenny, the favourite son, had put his mum in a care home which left him in the clear to spend her money. The narrator visited her mum and found the place an eyesore, with no security. The place was drab and sterile, nobody smiled, and there was an air of hopelessness. Most of the residents had Alzheimer’s so they could not see the conditions, or smell the urine tainted air. ‘Bastard’ said her mum, speaking of one of the ‘carers’. Someone broke a tea cup and the carer made the old gent bend down to pick up the pieces of broken china. ‘You wouldn’t treat a dog like that.' She tried to get her mum moved but she had a fall, developed a chest infection which turned to pneumonia and died a week later.

Comments were that it could be improved by more dialogue, but had been well edited. Nik said that some of his stories had taken 30 years to get published so not to lose heart and keep on writing and editing.

A new member Kellee told us a little about her writing experience with women’s organisations.

Mary S wrote a tribute to the Morris team. As usual with her poems, it was ‘laugh out loud’ funny.

Tribute to the Morris Team
I’m trying hard to get myself fit –
and lose a bit of weight
I need to get into the right dancing kit
But I may have left it far too late!

I have a very strong obsession –
I need to rejoin the team
They make such a strong impression-
I just have to fulfil my dream!

I used to perform a really good strip-
Of the Willow I hasten to add!
I went on many a good folk trip
It wasn’t just a passing fad!

I’ve been to festivals –camped in a tent
I’ve danced on a slope in the rain
I entered the spirit to great extent-
But then it was less of a strain

The team’s dancing these days is a quite sedate
As they have quite a few aches and pains
They can still perform ‘The Yorkshire Long Eight’
If they take god care of their varicose veins!

The music needs slowing just a touch
As they ‘Speed the Plough’ with due care
But it doesn’t appear to alter it much
And it wouldn’t be fair to compare!

As the hankies flick they cut such a dash
Their rants, sets and steps just in time
What a performance, what pride, what panache!
You would think they were still in their prime!

The men’s Morris team has only one man
So the ladies have to help out
They change into trousers all part of the plan
That they do their best there’s no doubt!

They’ve had to cut down on high leaps
They are perhaps just a little less frisky
But they do their best not to fall into heaps
The strain on their knees proves too risky

But I’m not yet ready for acting my age
I’ve got some more dancing to do
I ‘m in my ‘Make a Statement’ stage
But I do love it all – through and through!

Mary K surprised us with a story about a “massage in a brothel” as opposed to message in a bottle. It was Harry’s 18th birthday and his mates had paid for him to have a Thai massage with a happy ending. Harry gave in his voucher and his mates were laughing in the car knowing what awaited him. The massager finally got to the ‘happy ending’ bit and the next thing his mates knew the police and ambulance arrived. Harry looked very pale and was rushed into emergency. The headline in the paper the next day was “18 year old died prematurely of an overdose of ecstasy” ...

All of a sudden the room had got hot and we had to open the windows. There were a few helpful comments, but overall it was a pleasurable, racy story and the TWCers couldn’t wait to get to the happy ending. Nik thought it could be tweaked and sent off to one of the gossipy type magazines.

Jane read to us about her cruise, which did not have a good start as her credit card was rejected and she had to borrow money from Pat and repay her when they got back home. Nik said Jane had ‘got it off pat’. She spoke of her telephone calls to the bank account in Jersey, and then she talked about the cruise and the trips when they stopped off at places. She told us of the seating aboard the ship. A lady flopped on to their table uninvited and said "I simply have to sit here”; a man had been placed on her table who she had had several rows with. They called her the flower lady, and she never stopped moaning. They could see why she had a row with the man as she always wanted her own way.

Comments were that it painted a good picture of the holiday. Perhaps there were two stories in it as the telephone calls to the Jersey bank could make a story on their own. The word ‘very’ was used a bit too often. As usual with Jane’s stories, it was very enjoyable and evocative.

Chris read out a poem about some unknown lady.

Everyone thought she was clever
Everyone thought she was bright
So she didn’t put in much endeavour
She didn’t try with all of her might

She thought she’d do well without hard work
Just relax and go with the flow
But top marks aren’t always a nice perk
Or a present tied up with a bow

It was a bad shock when the news came
It set her right back on her heels
She burst into tears in her deep shame
And knew how a failure feels

There was only one way to get through it
To be truthful – face up to them all
To say she was sorry and admit
That pride always precedes a fail

It goes without saying she couldn’t
To apologise isn’t her way
To eat humble pie she wouldn’t
Just the thought filled her with great dismay

Next time in the same situation
You’d think she would do the reverse
That she wouldn’t give in to temptation
She wouldn’t be so damned perverse

But people like her cannot abstain
They believe they should always be top
They treat others with scorn and with disdain
And friends who aren’t like them they drop

So let’s hope she comes a huge cropper
Meets her match and quite loses the plot
Then she’ll learn some behaviour that’s proper
If she doesn’t, I hope that she’ll rot

Who was the lady and what was it she had failed at? If I was her I would mend my ways!

Next week the themes are ‘suddenly all the lights went out’ or ‘chance encounter’.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

writing competition

Hi y'all
Remember my brother Pete's writing competition (see link) - entires by Dec 1st. It's a good prize - one of us can do it I'm sure!


No I have not learnt a new language nor has my keyword gone mad - NaNoWriMo ? simple

National Novel Writing Month

What is that ? a good question and the answer is the challenge of writing a novel - 50,000 words in a month. Impossible ? well no, apparently not. For more click on the link above.

Rob Innis

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Tinker Child

The campfire flames
Hold you in a trance,
Kids play games,
They sing and dance.

Logs,hiss and crack
As they grow hot,
The smoke turns black
The old cooking pot.

A welcome breeze
That blows, quite light,
Rustles golden leaves
Making them take flight.

Far from the camp
There is only dark,
No light from lamp,
Just a lonely bark.

Horses hitched
And also hobbled,
Torn clothes stitched,
Worn shoes cobbled.

Wagons placed
As in a wheel,
Their owners taste
The evening meal.

Lots of food
For everyone to share,
For the men are good
With trap and snare.

Dogs gather around
To search for scraps,
When something's found
Lots of yelps and yaps.

Pipes filled, then lit,
By young and old,
It's time to sit
And hear stories told.

Tales so tall
Of witch or ghost,
And you recall
Those you like most.

They tell a lifestyle
That will soon be past,
When they lived by guile
And thought so fast.

For when things went wrong,
Tinkers got the blame,
Despite protests strong,
All were classed the same.

Yet you know in your mind
And admit it's true,
That for you and your kind
Those days are through.

But you vow to remember
And never feel shame,
As you gaze in the ember
Of the campfire's flame.

Ian Clark

A Torrent of Talent

There were 14 members in attendance at today's meeting which considering the weather the past few days was good. Rob was in the chair and proffered apologies on behalf of a number of members.

Before the meeting started the following announcements were made:
(1) Further details of the poppy appeal charity night were given,
(2) Maureen detailed a social occasion at her home to which everyone was invited,
(3) Glyn announced the date of his get-together, 21st October, and
(4) Rob provided details of TJ and Rita's exhibition at Procomobel.

This week's themes were "Would Love To Meet" (WLTM) or Must Love Dogs.

Maureen started proceedings with her fantasy dream based on the theme WLTM. Her future world and life were to be spent with what she regarded as her perfect man. At the end of her reading the consensus of opinion from the female members was - Dream On! Whilst the reaction from the males was that we had to spread ourselves around as there were so few of us left.

Douglas also used the dreamworld to tell of a horror attack on a young maid by her employer's son, her retribution and the consequences to her. As it turned out it was hallucinatory following an experiment with LSD. The piece was well received although it was felt that it could have done with more dialogue. A discussion took place on the use, or not, of dreams to tell a story as many publishers do not like this method and are loathe to publish "dream" stories.

Alan also took WLTM as his theme and had written a tongue-in-cheek piece about the placing of adverts in the personal columns of newspapers and magazines. This gave an insight into the mind of a man looking for his perfect woman. Needless to say it was a totally different aspect to Maureen's.

Christina read a story that she had written before but fitted the theme WLTM. This was titled "Lemon Tree Club" and told of a patron of the club who meets what seems to be her perfect man only it turns out that he is no Prince Charming and leaves her battered and bruised at the end of the night.

Rosemary chose the alternative theme of dogs to tell her tale of murder or should that be murders? - as the dogs also murdered rabbits. There was considerable discussion on this one as members thought that while the idea was good there was something missing, possibly passion or perhaps frustration to make it more believable. Several suggestion were made that might give the story more impact.

Chris's poem on WLTM described what she wanted in her man. This was not altogether different from Maureen's wish list except that Chris has what she described as "a brooding Swede".

Mary departed from her usual contribution of poetry to tell a true story as told to her by a man who was looking for his "perfect" woman. This gave a totally different insight to the man's way of thinking. Needless to say the names in the story were changed to protect the innocent.

Ian explained that his item had started off as a piece about dogs but he had become distracted as it progressed and he had ended up with something completely different which he called "Tinker Child". The members' reaction was that this was a very visual piece which everyone enjoyed. There was then a discussion on blank verse against rhyme and the fact that comments are usually given to those who write prose but feedback to those who write poetry is limited. It was suggested that we consider inviting an English speaking poet to one of our meetings.

Last but by no means least, Glyn gave us the latest version of his competition entry, "To Be Honest". Those of us who had heard it before thought the latest version had improved and those hearing it for the forst time thoroughly enjoyed it, not guessing the main character's profession until well on in the tale.

As I stated at the beginning - a torrent of talent.


Monday, 28 September 2009

Courting the Bull

Rob Innis, Deputy Chairman TWC, was presented with his contributors copies of the Expat Anthology:
Courting the Bull
last Saturday in Madrid by the editor, Sarah E. Rogers of Innoword Media.

Rob was delighted to have his short story 'Mediterranean Lady Seeks A Friend' published in the book which contains a variety of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Book details:
ISBN 978-0-9840928-0-2

Published by: Innoword Media
September 2009

Friday, 25 September 2009

Comment from Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I'm reading 'Strange Pilgrims' by my favourite author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and wanted to share this with you:
" The effort involved in writing a short story is as intense as beginning a novel, where everything must be defined in the first paragraph: structure, tone, style, rhythm, length, and sometimes even the personality of the character. All the rest is the pleasure of writing, the most intimate, solitary pleasure one can imagine, and if the rest of one's life is not spent correcting the novel, it is because the same iron rigour needed to begin the book is required to end it. But a story has no beginning, no end: either it works or it doesn't. And if it doesn't, my own experience, and the experience of others, shows that most of the time it is better for one's health to start again in another direction, or toss the storyin the wastebasket. Someone, I don't remember who, made the point with this comforting phrase: 'Good writers are appreciated more for what they tear up than for what they publish'"

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Mini memoir competition

Leaf Books invites you to send us an extract from your own life in 1,000 words or fewer. Your mini-memoir can be on any subject – childhood, war, travel writing, family, school, work, community projects, political activism, the story of your allotment or anything else you can think of that's happened to you in your life. It can be as dramatic or as low-key as you like: just make sure that it grabs our interest and that it stands alone as a narrative.

Enter online or by post. If sending entries by post, please note that we are unable to return submissions. If entering online, please pay via PayPal (see the competitions page on the website) and send your work as an attachment to as a .doc or .rtf file.

£4 per submission, 3 submissions for £10

Prize: Winner will receive £200 and a free copy of the anthology. Runner-up will receive a free copy of the anthology and a full set of Leaf mini-books. All selected pieces will be published in the anthology.

Closing date – January 15th 2010


This week's number of attendees was 15 which is about average. The content of the readings was however far from average, both in subject matter and quality.

This week's themes were - "Life would never be the same again" or "The Allotments".

Nik started the meeting by distributing details of competitions to those who have no access to the Internet; he had previously emailed all members with the same.

Douglas was the first to read but before doing so asked for permission to make a couple of announcements, the first being a charity concert to be held at "The Venue" in aid of the Poppy Appeal. The second and obviously the more important for Douglas was the announcement of his engagement to Rita.The group wished the couple well and offered heartfelt congratulations.

Douglas has been working on a series of anecdotal tales for the benefit of future generations of his family and his offering today was entitled "Egypt 1947- 1950". The story painted a picture of his army life in that country most graphically, not only the conditions but of the characters involved,
primarily Sgt Major Wiffen.

Gerry provided us with a further section of his story about the Lottery Winner and a fateful telephone call. The group offered several suggestions as to how the story could be tightened to make it more plausible. Gerry recognised and welcomed the comments that further editing could work wonders for the story.

Heather used this week's theme "Life would...etc" as the start of a possible novel about a group of workers in a hairdressing salon. The concept was good as to the central event drawing the characters together. It was felt however that she required more description of the location of the action and the protagonists involved. It was agreed that some of the phraseology involved was excellent and the circle encouraged her to continue with the effort.

Chris's offering was a poem based on "Life" entitled "Slow Down"

"When I was younger, I couldn't say
Oh! That happened 20 years ago today!
But now, I've been able, for quite a long while,
To go back further- but it's no cause to smile.

For as I can do that, it just goes to show
I've got much less time left and soon I must go.
But I'm not really ready- I've lots left to do
And I don't want to leave, it's too soon in my view.

So let's put the brakes on, there's nothing to gain
At this stage in life to be in the fast lane."

Everyone thought that this was so true to life and so prophetic.

Mary also used this week's theme of "Life" to write an inspirational poem of a world without men. Comments were made, mainly from the females as to whether the world would be a better place without men. The male members of the group declined to comment!!!

Ian stated that he had nothing to read and was met with gasps of horror or surprise. I can never differentiate.

Rosemary gave an excellent review of the Julie Walters autobiography which made you feel you wanted to go and buy the book. Her review also stimulated a discussion on what should be included or not, as the case may be, in a review.

Rob took the alternative theme of "Allotments" to provide a story entitled "Digging for Victory".
Again the story was warmly received with the plot well conceived and put together. Several suggestions were made about polishing the piece up before sending it off somewhere either for publication or competition.

Cynthia's piece called "Driving Lessons" gave us an insight into the trials and tribulations of a learner driver ( Cynthia ) being taught how to drive by her husband. The consensus of opinion was that it was true to life by all of those who have tried to teach a family member how to drive or been taught by one.

This week's meeting had a diversity of subjects and the quality, as usual, was high. Looking forward to hearing more next week.


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Fullish House.

We must have been getting on for twenty today. People are gradually turning up after the summer break and more and more chairs are needed. Of course this is great as it means the group is popular, alive and kicking but it means that it´s getting more and more difficult to hear everyone´s piece. Today was no exception and several people had to wait till next week to read out their stuff.

The subject was a choice of Driving Lessons/The Coach Trip/In The Fast Lane.
Only two people who did read had chosen one of these subjects and they both went for Driving Lessons. Ann B wrote about lessons she was obliged to take in order to get a job. It was an interesting look back on what it was like to take lessons and a test in the sixties. It was thought that the euphoria of actually passing the test was lacking but otherwise there were some funny moments.

Chris J
wrote about her experience with a panic-stricken Cypriot instructor aptly named Panicos. It was deemed worth working on to submit to a magazine but various suggestions about word choice were made.

The other members´pieces were not on the theme of the day.

Rob had a story set in the 50s called The Library Book. ( He should actually have read it last week but there was no time.) The girl in the story got into a flap thinking she had discovered a letter planning a murder. It was amusing and well-placed in the setting by references to phone boxes, buses and the dialogue, which was very polite and more formal than it is nowadays.

Glyn´s revised chapter of his novel was true to form. Vigorous language (Is that the correct PC euphemism?) and very funny. It´s a while since I heard the original version so it´s hard to say in what way this is an improvement but anyway, it was well received .

Brenda wrote a FWW piece about a young conscript who was about to go over the top. His bitter thoughts about the unfairness of being about to become cannon fodder were very telling. However it was thought that they were too mature for a boy of his education and age and she would do well to make him a few years older.

Ian´s piece was something he started a few years ago and is perhaps intended to be part of a longer piece.It had considerable promise and people were interested in hearing more but Nik judged it to have too much telling and not enough showing. The events could also benefit by a change in the order to capture the reader´s interest sooner. Back to the drawing board Ian!!

Rosemary is hoping to transform what she deemed to be a boring diary account of her struggles in learning Spanish into an informative piece for EFL teachers on how it is to be on the receiving end of a lesson, thus helping them to teach more effectively. I must say, I could have done with one of those when I started out as a teacher!

Pat screwed up her courage and read a description of her own experiences during WW2 as a child evacuated to Wales from London. Her reaction to gas masks was interesting to say the least. She loved the smell of the rubber and still likes the smell today - even loves sniffing wellies, if I understood correctly. Various ribald comments were bandied about the table concerning rubber fetishists but Pat, elegant lady as she is, rose above it. Very interesting piece indeed and we hope she´ll write more. Could well be a demand for this type of account as it is the 70th anniversary this year of the beginning of the war. Get on with it Pat!!!

Finally Heather squeezed in her second-ever poem. It was about that summer delight, mozzies!
So desperate is she at times that she turns to the drink:

You´re desperate for peace from the night´s itching din

You pour over the tonic and knock back the gin.

I must say, it´s a novel way to get shot of the little so-and-sos, to drown them!

Good meeting. See you all next week.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Courting the Bull

I was delighted to have my short story: 'Mediterranean Lady Seeks a Friend' (which I have read out at TWC) accepted by the publishers, Innoword, for their Expat anthology which has now been published under the title of:

Courting the Bull

To quote from the publishers press release:

Savor the Secret Sights, Sounds and Sensualities of Spain in Innoword Media’s Inaugural Book Courting the Bull: An Anthology of Expatriate Literature in Spain

Literary Descendants of Hemingway Expose Intimate, Romantic, Thrilling Details of Wild and Wonderful Spanish Culture

Madrid, Spain, September 10, 2009 – Innoword Media announces the release this month of its exciting, new inaugural book, Courting the Bull: An Anthology of Expatriate Literature in Spain. The collection of short stories, essays and verse highlights the tantalizing, romantic and irresistible aspects of a Spanish culture that captured the hearts and imaginations of a collection of rising modern artists.

“There is a moment – and every expatriate remembers theirs – when a foreign city begins to unfold before their very eyes. Capturing that moment is the essence behind the literature,” said Innoword Media Editor Sarah E. Rogers. “It is with great pleasure that we unveil these mysterious moments in our new collection, Courting the Bull: An Anthology of Expatriate Literature in Spain.”

Whether one has already booked a trip to the alluring country of Spain, whether travel plans are still in the works or whether one simply feels an insatiable curiosity, Courting the Bull is a literary work that entertains, engages and captures the imagination.

One of the reasons Hemingway held onto his long-standing love affair with Spain may be summed up in his book, The Sun Also Rises: “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.”

Courting the Bull: An Anthology of Expatriate Literature in Spain is priced at $15.99 in the US, €11.99 in Europe and £9.99 in the UK. For more information, or to purchase a copy, please visit

About Innoword Media
Innoword Media is an independent press that publishes books about art, food, literature and travel.

My story involves an unwitting Expat Brit. who becomes involved in a fraud after having met a Spanish lady in Barcelona. However maybe she has under estimated her victim as events unfold and things do not go exactly as she had planned...

I have been offered the chance to meet the publishers in Madrid to be presented with my complimentary contributors copies. More to follow.

Rob Innis

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Welcome back to TWC'ers who have been absent for a while

Nik reported that the Coast Rider would hopefully be including weekly short stories and the editor was trying to investigate a sponsor so that writers could get some recompense for their work. Rob said that the Round Town News is holding a writing competition, the deadline now being next month.

Nik introduced Jan Warburton, who attends when she is in Spain. Jan said she had struggled with writing for years and only when she was made redundant did she give it a go. She started with the writers’ bureau initially and sold some stories through them, and then ghost wrote an autobiography by Tommy Hunt, Only Human. Tommy had written it on an Amstrad in capital letters with no breaks for paragraphs. The book was about black musicians being exploited by white agents and the difficulty of getting black musicians’ music heard on the radio. Nik said Jan had captured the voice of the musician.

Brenda read out chapters 1 and 2 of her edited novel about Belle. It started at the funeral of her mother and brought into life the characters in the novel. TWC'ers enjoyed the edited version, particularly liking the allusion to the tulip which hung its head in the cemetery. The piece was thought to be evocative. Nik said you don’t need to attribute speech unless necessary, as readers would know who was speaking. It was thought it would be a good idea to use dates in the chapter headings, like Ken Follett does, so that readers don’t get confused as to what year they are in, as the story goes back and forth.

Norma read out a short story about Maria. Where does Maria live? Maria has 5 dogs which all do their business on the path and her big black dog attacks other dogs. She is a psychiatric case but Norma thinks she is very clever because she outwits denuncias made by neighbours and the police can never find her. She keeps Jose, his son and the lodger well serviced in a sexual way and also with drugs, but where does she live. There is a knife attack at Jose’s house; the urbanisation wants to be rid of her. Lisa thought the knife attack could be the beginning of the story. Joy thought the story should be called “How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Jenny wrote about a library book. The librarian, Miss Briggs, was working in the library when a youth lobbed a firework in the window. Miss Briggs had a head cold so couldn’t smell the smoke; she was reading a book under the counter so never noticed the fire. The next thing she knows is being taking out the building, which was destroyed along with all the books, apart from one, the one she had been reading beneath the counter, The Towering Inferno, a nice twist.

Gerry had also written on the theme “As I sat waiting for a phone call ...” The phone call he was waiting for was from Tony his mate. 2 weeks ago they realised they had won 3.4 million pounds on the Lotto. However, Tony couldn’t find the ticket. The writer wondered if one of Tony's two lady friends could have taken the ticket. The search for the ticket went on. The phone rang, what was the answer going to be ........? Rob thought that the writer himself might be lying, not Tony or the 2 women. Nik said readers can feel cheated if the story doesn’t have an ending and is left up in the air, like the film The Italian Job where the car is left teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Mary read out a piece about “The library book”, called Emma’s dilemma. Emma had borrowed a book from the library by Ken Follett. As she came to part 4 a note fell out of the book, “If you are reading this note you must attend the local library. Please phone the number below. I need you.” She didn’t know if he was a weirdo or a lonely person. She stared at the note and picked up the phone .... Nik liked the idea of putting book titles like “Great Expectations” in a story to titillate the reader.

Chris had written a review about a novel by a Swedish writer, Hakan Nesser. It was a story about crime detection concerning the case of family members vanishing without trace. The chief inspector, Van Dieter, was Swedish of Italian descent and a gloomy character. Chris said it was a gripping read and recommended it. The author has had 4 books translated into English.

Rita read out a story entitled The Conman. Her husband, a barman in London, came home and said he had met a man from Gloucestershire who had offered him a job as a hotel manager and they were going with him the next morning to see the place. They got up at 4 a.m., asked the neighbours to watch the children, waited and he never came. Rita asked, “Did you give him any money?” He said yes and a free lunch, in total worth about £20, a lot of money then. Rita rang up the hotel and was told that the man had left the hotel owing money having stolen business cards, that other people had been cheated by him and he was wanted by the police. 14 months later Rita was in another pub when a shabby man tried to talk to her who said he was from Gloucester. She arranged to meet him with her husband and police nearby. The CID apprehended him after he started to run and he got 5 years in prison for fraud. It turned out that 4 months into his sentence the man died in prison. She had lost sleep when the man had got her up at 4 a.m. but she slept peacefully when she heard of his demise.

Heather also wrote on the subject “As I sat waiting for a return phone call ....” She was trying to ring the support line about a modem and in the end she wasn’t writing about the complaint but about how difficult it was to complain. Everybody knows the way it goes, you ring this number, are given options none of which fit and then you end up being cut off. After many calls, with flask and Kendall mint cake at hand she tried again. A girl from the Black Country said she should send an email to complain but she couldn’t because she hadn’t got a modem. In the end the caller called the police to say there was a bomb in the building and as she heard the sirens wondered if any of the policemen would know about modems.

Ian wrote a review about a book called The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. He tells his story as a one sided conversation in a tea house in Lahore. The writer reminisces about his successful life in America until 9/11 when he is forced to reassess his position because everyone views him in a different light. The writer extracts sympathy from the reader. Ian said the book was tense right to the last sentence and thought-provoking.


Wednesday, 2 September 2009


Nik informed writing circlers about various story competitions. He and Rob have approached the Coastrider about sending in stories and poems, but still wait to see if they're willing to pay any money for work that people have worked hard on. In the latest September edition of The New Coastal Press there are 3 articles by TWC’ers, Nourish a blind life by Nik, The Parting by Ian (I didn’t see the end coming) and an obituary by Nik about pianist Larissa Yvonne Snarli who had died in August.

I read out a poem which had to be written on a post card, the sum total of such postcards being displayed at the opening of THE QUAD, a new Arts Centre built in Derby. It had to be only 50 words long and about a tradition, urban myth or rumour concerning Derby. I chose to write about the Derby Ram.

The Derby Ram was an awesome sight, wandering the streets at night
Seeking willing ewes to mount, to ensure his progeny beyond a doubt

Its ghostly presence is still around, where the youth of Derby can be found
Behind THE QUAD at the break of dawn, unwittingly creating the yet unborn

Jane’s story was on one of the suggested themes, “As I sat waiting for a return phone call, I reflected on ...” Jane reflected on a holiday in Cyprus which had been a disaster in the hotel Paradiso, a bit of a misnomer. On the morning of 22 December her husband, Archie, was feeling very tired, she called the doctor who immediately sent him to hospital. They hadn’t been able to purchase travel insurance so there was a worry about the cost of it all. On 20 Jan he was discharged and they flew back home. On 10 June he dropped dead in the kitchen. It was very well written, despite the sadness of the story, and particularly apposite was Jane’s thoughts that while waiting to see Archie in hospital she sat doing her cross stitching like a woman in a previous age would have done the same while waiting for her husband away fighting in a war, but in her case her husband was fighting for his life.

Douglas read out the start of a story on the theme of Neighbours, and he didn’t know where it would lead. It began, “Oh Stan this is what I have always wanted.” A newly married couple had bought their first house and were struggling to pay for everything they wanted. The wife, Val, was never satisfied and wanted new furniture, a new TV but didn’t want to work to help pay for it. Stan would try to be firm with her but she would sulk. The next door neighbour, Ursula, said to Stan “Tell Val well done.” When he asked Val about this, it turned out she was pregnant, more money worries anticipated. The next day Stan met Ursula and walked with her to the station. She linked her arm into his ..... TWC’ers thought the story could go several ways, the most original being that Ursula and Val would end up together with the baby, another that Stan was going to kill Val and run off with Ursula. Nik thought Douglas should focus on the characters and edit out all clichés.

Maureen’s story was also on the theme “As I sat waiting for a return phone call, I reflected on ...”
Maureen reflected on a time 50 years previously at a dance in a tin hut for members of the air force. Glen Miller was on the record player and the young man said “Are you dancing?” the young lady replying “Are you asking?” (That brought back memories!) Six weeks later they were married and she prayed that her husband would be spared and come back to her after the war. He did come back and they were so grateful that God had treated them so well. They only had one boy and he told them he was being ordained as a priest. She gave up her only son to the church and would have no grandchildren but was happy to do so as she felt she had to pay God back for saving her husband.

Nik read out his heart-warming story which had been published on the beattoapulp website. He said that the editor had personally rung him up to make suggestions, which had been very helpful. It was called “I celebrate myself” and concerned a female NY cop searching a trash compactor because one of the operators, Travis, had thought he could hear a baby cry. She had to search through the stench, trying to steer clear of discarded needles, cockroaches etc. She found a doll’s leg and gave a sigh of relief, but then her torch alighted on two legs which turned out to belong to a baby born about two hours previously. She wondered whether to let the baby die, as being born in such circumstances in a NY ghetto was unlikely to lead to a good life, but the desire to save lives kicked in and she gave mouth to mouth, the baby coughed and she said “Thank God he had a chance.” Travis had been right and little Travis, as the baby was to be known, lived to fight another day. When I read the story on the site, I couldn’t wait to find out whether the baby lived; I so much wanted him to. There was much tension and imagery in the story. Another story by NIK on the same site is “Spend now pay later” about selling your limbs.

Glyn wrote from the perspective of a woman so it was written by Glynis Dale. I couldn’t help picturing Glyn in full makeup and stockings, but quickly banished the thought. It was Eileen’s 18th birthday and on the radio was the song that went “In the morning mist two lovers kissed...” Her boyfriend, Roy, proposed to her and as her parents were away they quickly consummated the relationship. They kissed goodbye at the station as Roy had to return to his army unit. Later she found out she was pregnant but then received a letter saying that Roy had died in an accident with a troop carrier. The baby, Roy junior, was born but cruelly snatched away from her and given for adoption to a GP and his wife. Eileen pushed an empty pram about in order to sneak glances of her carrot headed baby. Johnny, as the GP called his adopted son, grew to be a teenager, got married and had a son himself, also a carrot top. Eileen underwent chemo and the doctor told her she was now in remission. She rushed to the cafeteria and celebrated with her new love, a cup of tea. There was much discussion about the ending which TWC’ers thought he should change but which Glyn adamantly stuck with.

Ian read out a poem on the theme of “Reflection.” It was about a soldier in Helmand province. The soldier reflected “I will never be lost without trace” because of his loved ones at home. By this time everyone was in tears!

Joy also had a sad poem about an abused wife with an alcoholic husband. “He doesn’t love me, I am to blame, I must keep quiet and hide my shame.” The last line was “Perhaps I will give him one last chance.” The poem reflected the way that abused wives take the blame for their abuse themselves. Nik thought the last two poems should be sent off to a magazine.

Brenda had a poem called “Why?” It asked why life is not what it should be and ended with the stark reality that “We don’t know why.”

Next week TWC’ers can write a book review of 250 words or a poem or story on the theme The Library Book. Let’s hope there is a bit more lightheartedness next week, but just in case there isn’t bring a spare hanky or a box of tissues. Please don’t write a review of the book "The Titanic” or we will all be feeling suicidal!