Saturday, 28 February 2009

Writing themes - March

Themes to write for, if lost for words, are:
4 March - Main character meets up with a long-lost relative afte 25 years...
11 March - Poem: 6 lines for a 21st birthday card - or 'The outing'
18 March - Include in story or poem: pen, bluebells, sunglasses
25 March - The couple next door
Writing Magazine competition - 'Crime Story'.

Meeting of 25 February, 2009

Seventeen attendees, six apologies. Alan resumed his intriguing tale about a strange inheritance and left us all hanging, wanting more… next week. Ironically, an inheritance was the subject of Jane’s poem, about bickering over possessions – ‘When war broke out’, that is within the family, not on the international stage. Deadly war figured in Ann B’s factual account of her time in the middle east during the Iran-Iraq conflict. She was a secretary/driver and ‘facilitator’ for NBC: this would definitely make a very interesting article for a commercial magazine.

Ian returned with a piece from an earlier theme – ‘You did what?’ This was told in dialogue between two young girls and was hilarious, the characters seeping from the spoken word. Brian read the ending of his Rider Haggard entry, which was chilling and steeped in atmosphere; we wish him luck.

Brenda’s continuing saga slid back to the past with skill; however, the ravishing of the heroine perhaps requires more emotional context. Mary K gave us a tale through the eyes of a child, a ten-year-old. The fate of a fox hung in the balance; evoked memories of The Belstone Fox by David Rook. Jenny’s poem was excellent, with great pace, but the title needs to change else it’s given away…

Glyn continued his saga about recruitment in the Army. They’ve been introduced to PT – and it’s quite painful – that’s our laughter as well as the poor sod’s experiences. Again, little to comment on.

Time ran out so next week we’ll first hear from Douglas, Rita and Joy.

First Edition Magazine

First Edition magazine is a new magazine, the first two issues have been published. I'll let the editors tell you about it. They can be found at

First Edition magazine is the home of new fiction by new writers. It encourages new writing talent to showcase their work and gives them the opportunity to have it published in the UK and across the World.
First Edition Magazine Subscription is just £30 per year - 12 issues for the price of 10! For more information on subscribing to First Edition Magazine, please visit our Buy Page.
Do you know a business that should be promoted to our thousands of readers? Send them to see our recession-busting advertising rates.
Published monthly, this high-quality 'coffee-break' magazine gives a wide range of exclusive writing talent from many different genres. There is no other magazine available in the market that is solely dedicated to unpublished and unsigned authors.
100+ Pages of unpublished works each month including
Short Stories
Serialisations of Complete Novels
Poetry and Prose
Along with fascinating features and articles such as:
Interviews and Biographies
Puzzles and Prizes
Reader's Reviews
Book Releases
Bestseller Charts

Whether you've written a short story, poem, complete novel, script, play or book review we want to hear from you. We run a monthly competition in each of these categories that is completely FREE to enter. Our team of judges will pick the best each month, and we will publish a selection of them in the next available issue of First Edition Magazine. There are cash prizes for the very best in each category. No matter which category, if chosen you can boast that your work has been published and read by tens of thousands of people, and you may even win some cash if you're the very best!
There is NO LIMIT to how much you can submit, or to how many categories. Categories we are looking for:
Short Stories
Serialisations of Complete Novels
Poetry and Prose
Plays and Scripts
Reader's Book Reviews
SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINESAll submissions should ideally be sent to First Edition in an easily editable digital format (such as basic text or Microsoft Word), and sent either by post on CD/DVD, or via email. We can also accept printed copies, though prefer digital formats. You must also fill in a short application form and declaration. Inclusion of a mini-biography and digital photograph would be beneficial.
Short Stories, Scripts and Plays should be between 500-3000 words. Whilst we will consider stories outside of these sizes, other stories will be our priority.
Poems and Poetry of all types should be no longer than 50 lines.
Complete Novels can be of any size over 40,000 words and, if chosen, will be serialised over several issues.
Book Reviews should be between 100-300 words.
Prizes and CompetitionOur judges will select their favourite from each of the following categories, and a cash prize will be awarded. The judges decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into regarding the entries, entrants or winners.
WHERE TO SENDSubmissions can be sent via post to: Submissions Department, First Edition Magazine, PO BOX 7110, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 9ER. Alternatively, submissions can be accepted via email to as long as the email contains all of the information included on the short application form and declaration.
Whilst submissions are accepted from anywhere in the World, they must be in English. Please note we cannot accept submissions without a completed short application form and declaration.
By submitting, authors agree for the work to appear in any future First Edition Magazine issues or compilations, but confer no other ownership of the work to First Edition Publishing.
Short application form and declaration - download from the website.
Best of luck!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

International Women’s Day - 5 March, 2009

Company Women Mini Exhibition
5 March, 2009
11am – 6pm
At Procomobel, Home Centre, Guardamar (on N332)
Café/bar open 10am-2pm, 4pm-7pm
Company Women Buffet Lunch
Invite for Ladies only
9.50 euros to Company Women Members & 13 euros to non members
Lunch attendance – email by Friday 27 February

Maureen will be there representing Libros International and will be selling LI books.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Meeting 18 February 2009

Fifteen attended and we ran out of time for readings, which is no bad thing since it means that plenty of members had written work to offer for comment. I asked how many members were contemplating writing a novel (though I know of four) then briefly offered encouragement, using some quotations posted on the Black Horse Western yahoo group by writer Charlie Whipple. In short, you eat an elephant a mouthful at a time. A brief discussion on the structure of a novel ensued.

It was good to have Pat kicking off the readings; her character Jim’s nostalgic visit to the loft was poignant and touched the group: you can write, Pat, so don’t hold back! Jane gave us a sad piece about a mother lapsing into Alzheimer’s: well realised and deeply felt. Chris regaled us with a poem about the ‘perfect man’, incisive with biting wit. Mary K read out two poems, one entitled ‘Nobody’s perfect’ and the second about a Valentine with a twist. There followed a brief discussion about poetry and the modern tendency to opt out of rhyme, which most found regrettable. Bring back rhyming poetry was the clarion call!

Brenda continued with her saga about Belle, restricting this section to the modern day storyline, which most felt should be tightened up. Characters good as usual, however. Glyn returned to reading another sequence from his story of recruitment in the Army in the 1960s – which had everyone laughing; we were so wrapped up in the tale there was no feedback or constructive criticism!

Cynthia read a short item about the ‘perfect man’, concluding that such a creature would not be a good partner at all. Rob read another snippet about his Spanish mother-in-law – she won the lottery, she told him, explaining that as she was 86, she meant the lottery of ‘life’. Douglas ended by reading a short children’s story written by his late wife Jean, which was about cats and piglets whose tale deserves a home.

Alan’s continuing story about the inheritance will have to wait until next week.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Lost in translation

Lost in translation

I looked around me at the crowd stretching out as far as I could see in every direction. Hundreds, possibly even thousands of passengers, pushing and shoving, gesticulating in complaint or staring sullenly into the distance. A sea of humanity, resigned, cynical, expecting only to be delayed or thwarted, not a shred of hope nor optimism discernible on any face. Now and again above the din a shout would echo around the departure hall – someone who’d simply had enough, sharing their frustration or despair.

Beijing airport is huge by any standards, and mechanical, impersonal, relentless. Resist at your peril – the machine won’t stop for you. After your holiday you arrive to join the queues at check in, and then shuffle with the masses to security where you are duly processed like a part on a factory conveyor belt, your cabin bag inspected and health certificate collected. Once through passport control you head onwards into the dazzling departure hall where glitzy shops line the central passage and you hurry towards the gates – past the fast food chains, the glamorous designer shops, the cafes. No time here to ‘meet carefully’ as you are urged by a couple of notices. By now you have walked about two kilometres and the boards are flashing to remind you that your flight is on final call for boarding. The departure process usually takes around three hours. Clearly the airport is an ‘operating place of importance’ like a few others I had seen signposted on my travels.

Once on board I sat back in my seat, having taken out my book, water bottle, cleansing wipes, moisturiser and toothbrush kit, placed them into the seat pocket - which now rested on my knees – and waited for the engines’ whines, all ready for take off.

An hour later we were still on the tarmac. A cabin attendant with a face like a porcelain doll strolled nonchalantly past.

‘Excuse me, what is the delay? Can you tell me when we are going to depart?’

‘We have formalities,’ she replied. I was so stunned I couldn’t think of a response. Another hour passed before I enquired again.

‘Is there a problem? We are very delayed now.’

‘No ploblem. We have formalities.’ Perhaps the pilot was having a pre-take off nap, having heeded a sign on the airport approach road ‘Do not drive tiredly.’ I suppose if we had any kind of accident we would have needed the services of an ‘Alarming Place’ as first aid stations are sometimes named.

We eventually took to the air after nearly three hours with only dry biscuits, water and a Tour of China film to sustain us before an eleven hour flight. Still, at least there was a Hollywood movie to look forward to. When our meal arrived I was delighted to find it was ‘chicken with strange taste’ - my favourite, and far better than the ‘reproductive organs of the crab’ I’d tried elsewhere - and there was even a tiny plastic cup containing a mouthful of red wine to go with it. The authorities like to keep everyone healthy, as you are reminded frequently by signs announcing ‘No Liquorheads’ at the entrance to various sights.

I leaned back once more and recalled some of my favourite moments, such as figuring out that a notice warning ‘no refluence’ at the Hong Kong border had nothing to do with sewage as I at first thought but meant that I couldn’t change my mind and turn back once I had set foot in the Peoples’ Republic. In any case there was no time to change my mind as another sign warned ‘No Lingering’. On pain of what? I wondered.

I think my favourite linguistic triumph was figuring out that the notice on a rubbish bin on the Great Wall - ‘If you would join us more rubbish will be homeless’ - was not in fact an insult but an attempt to keep the area clean.

China is full of translation delights like these. In Yangshuo I was impressed to see that the farmer who had so kindly shown me his modern toilet (with a roof above the trench) had been awarded the ‘Thick Farmer of the Year’ prize for his productivity.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now approaching London airport….’

It had been a good movie thus far, but there were at least thirty minutes remaining when it was abruptly switched off for our approach, so I never saw the end. Perhaps they’ll show it to the passengers waiting on the tarmac for the return flight to take off.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Story structure

Hooray! Thanks Nik for explaining what to do about selecting a different Google account to sign on. Anyone else who already has a gmail account needs to know to do this otherwise you can't get in.
Rather than email you I wanted to post this so that others can see my feedback about the 'Story Structure Architect' book. It is one of the most useful books I've read because for me (and possibly not for others) finding the structure for my novel has been a real hurdle. It simply wasn't enough to use the journey only because my throughline as the author calls it didn't keep me focused and I kept drifting off into anecdotal 'scenes' instead of moving my story forward. Reading this has opened up whole new possiblities for me and I've made copious notes. It really has helped me get my ideas in order, and now I feel ready to move on where I had been struggling with putting all my ideas in some sort of order.
I doubt if I'll make it to our meeting tomorrow as I'm inspired to write instead!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Debut - a new short story magazine

The stable that has successfully published 'Countryside Tales' and 'Scribble' is bringing out a new magazine this month, entitled 'Debut'. I will put in a subscription for the Circle. However, if any member wants to subscribe, it's probably worthwhile as you are able to enter all competitions for all three magazines for free.

Park Publications, 14 The Park, Stow on the Wold, Cheltenham, Glos GL54 1DX. email:, Debut - 4 issues, £20 annual subscription; individual copy, £4.75 (cheque payable to 'Park Publications'). Stories on any subject - crime, horror, ghost, sci-fi, romance, humour. Max 3,000 words. Best 3 stories in each issue decided by readers will receive £75, £25 and £15. Non-subscriber entry fee per story: £3 (or £5 if requiring a critique); subscriber: free entry plus free critique. Stories only by post, and if you want a critique or the story returned then enclose an SAE. Contact details etc on the covering sheet; usual format applies: presentation matters.

'Countryside Tales' features short stories about the countryside, poems and articles.

Go for it! Good luck.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


If you´re bored and want something different to read, go to my blog ( Chris J ), where you´ll find a list of books I´ve really enjoyed. See the link to my blog further down the page on the left.

Enjoyed today´s meeting, especially Cynthia´s piece on tea with her prospective mum-in-law. Hilarious!

Also thanks to Brian for the chocolate drops! I think we should keep up the custom of somebody bringing in something scrumptious to eat every week.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Meeting 11 February 2009

Still a good turnout – 12. I started by reading the beginning of my novel SNEEZE ON A THURSDAY and the private eye humour seemed to be appreciated. Mary K read out a humorous poem about a matchmaking mother, with a neat twist ending; this could make a good twist short story too. Mary M gave us a well-observed piece about a country post office and this too had a twist ending – quite chilling too. Polish and send this out, Mary!

Cynthia offered a delightful and greatly entertaining piece about ‘tea with me mammy’, an affectionate reminiscence of her time in Ireland. This too should be sent out. Glyn read the conclusion to his soldier’s tale set in Afghanistan: ‘Flight home from Kandaha’ – a well-realised tough uncompromising story which should perhaps be entered in a competition. A number of members are casting their eyes at competitions – good luck to all.

Brian read the early stages of his proposed competition entry to the Rider Haggard competition and everybody agreed that he had captured the tone and language of the period. Heinke is also considering entering a competition and the beginning of her children’s tale was enjoyed by all; it’s liable to give 6-7yr olds nightmares, just what they’ll love! Chris read out a below-1,000 word story which shone with little details and was moving; this too should be polished and sent out. Alan ended our session with an anti-religious Darwinian humorous item that is surely going to earn him his own little fatwa; several members asked him to continue with his intriguing short novel.

Moleskine winner!

Congratulations Rob on getting your letter - Crime & Nourishment - published in the March issue of Writers' Forum. You're in good company as your ex-tutor Simon Whaley is also featured. Well done!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

When 2+ 2=18.17

Just checked our Euromillones tickets and we have won again - twice!

2 + 1 = 9.26€
2+ 2 = 18.17€

We will soon be rich and famous!


Saturday, 7 February 2009

B***! Blogs!

After last week´s meeting, I felt inspired to try to create a blog of my own.

After a considerable effort ( You Tube´s film on how to create a blog wouldn´t download), I managed to do it.

However, I haven´t sussed out how to make it accessible to anyone else. Now, every time I try to access it as an ordinary blogreader, it says it doesn´t exist. But I know it does and can get it through my google account.

So I´m really ticked off. All that effoert and not much of a result.

Chris J

Auguries magazine

No, this isn't a new market - but a very old one. Anyone interested in what I was up to between 1983 and 1994 can see where some of my time was spent - editing and publishing the magazine Auguries. Cost and time killed it, sadly.

You can find the details at:

- Nik

Friday, 6 February 2009

Good News For Us Writers....

This I saw on my Writers bureau tutor's blog:

"Considering that the credit crunch first began to nibble about a year ago, before taking a right mouthful after August, you may be surprised to hear that according to official figures just released, a total of 120,947 brand new books were published in the UK in 2008. That's 4% more than in 2007....

For the rest of this interesting blog see here


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Meeting of 4 February 2009

Today’s meeting was attended by twenty members and there were four guests. We started with readings from those who were unable to give us their offerings last week due to lack of time. Anne related a true hotel experience which evoked sympathy and amusement in equal measure. Chris regaled us with items about a meal and a robust querilous query, ‘Why did you ask me over?’ Joy chose to write a poem that reflects the sad state of Britain today regarding knife crime. Ian made us feel the cold and wet of a sea squall as fishermen fought back to their safe harbour; this definitely has to be sent out to a magazine. Cynthia amused us with a piece about friends who tend to leave a part of themselves behind after they leave – as if marking their territory. Mary M gave us a poem from a 74-year old who can still dream. Douglas created a complex character and unwound her story with great skill until the poignant end; again, this should be sent out to be read by a wider audience. Rita wrote some reminiscences of her volunteer work in Katmandu; if she can apply herself, there is scope for an enlightening and interesting book. Maureen closed the first half with her travel tale about China, ‘lost in translation’ which brought several smiles to the listeners.

One guest was Freda Lightfoot, author of over 40 short stories, 5 historical romances and 24 sagas for Hodder. Freda travelled with husband David from Almeria to listen to our speaker.

Penny Legg, accompanied by her diplomat and photographer husband Joe, gave us a talk on her life and her involvement with the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She now edits the society’s magazine, The Woman Writer, published every ten weeks. Although she had written since childhood, Penny actually got into writing for money while following her other pursuit, amateur dramatics. From Brussels to Bangladesh, she combined writing and directing Amdram. As she pointed out, expat Brits around the world tend to congregate and raise money for charities and Amdram is one of many ways of achieving this, while giving pleasure to those performing and the audience too. Penny edited a glossy magazine in Anguilla in the West Indies but has now moved to Southampton as her base. Her message is multi-faceted: use your experiences to inform your writing wherever possible; be persistent; foster an interest in as many subjects as possible, again to broaden your scope and appeal. Networking certainly helps too and the greatest aid to doing this is through the internet and blogs.

The SWWJ was founded in 1894 and has had many distinguished females in its membership over the years; it now also accepts men as associate members. Their website is
- Nik

If you want your own blog....

Suggest you watch the movie (with speakers ON!!)

I want to see the movie
(click on that)

If you have a go at this please DO NOT use this blogs sign on and password.

Use your own email address etc to create YOUR Google account.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Am I here

Followed the instructions - they where very clear
So I now need confirmation - Am I really here!