Thursday, 28 May 2009

Eagles and Other Things of Interest.

I was away in Calpe but I have been told that a group of intrepid adventurers from the Writers´Circle travelled inland, visited eagles and drank tea at a Moroccan Tearoom. Just the pioneering spirit one likes to hear about in a group of artistic souls unafraid to widen perspectives and give their creative souls freedom to savour new experiences. I believe the lunch was pretty good, too.

However, I digress.

Last Wednesday´s meeting could so easily have been catastrophic. Our revered leader did not appear at the appointed time and for a while confusion reigned. However, the deputy chairman
showed his true grit and donned his leadership cap, turning members´anxiety and confusion into calm, confident, literary flow and another successful meeting was under way.

It was attended by several visitors, one of whom was a published author, Vera McHugh who, together with Christine Holohan, wrote Voice From The Grave and Whisper of an Angel, the true story about a clairvoyant helping the police to track down a murderer. She talked about her writing and gave some tips on writing and getting published.

The subject for the day was Reward or Rejection.

Chris wrote about being rewarded and then punished with rejection at Primary school - a sad tale of a bitchy teacher and the long-lasting effect on a young child.

Geoff, in his usual inimitable style told the tale of a man on a train whose fascination with the phrase elastoplasity of lusciousness earns him angry rejection by a female passenger in his compartment.

Mary S wrote a hilarious rant about Ryanair´s treatment of overweight passengers.
This could be sold to the in-flight magazine of a rival airline, it was felt.

Cynthia´s piece told of a pooch in a dog´s home who is never picked to go home with a new owner. Not a dry eye around the table!

The other members all contributed different things.

Glyn had rewritten chapter one of his novel to round out his main character more. Very funny and a good re-write.

Brenda read a diary excerpt from her novel, getting the voice of her main character spot- on. A real melodrama there!

Maureen also read from her novel. This was a diary-cum-letter of the daughter left at home in Guernsey to her mother travelling far away. Maureen wanted to try out on us this way of introducing a character who is often talked about but until now has not had a voice of her own.

Mary M gave us a piece from her children´s book about Harold the Hedgehog. If you could stroke hedgehogs, we would all have stroked Harold.

Douglas had a piece about nostalgia and many a far-away look of reminiscence was to be seen around the table as he spoke of milk churns, apple scrumping, the rag-and-bone man, and learning times tables by rote. A piece for The Best of Britain magazine, suggested Rob.

Only two poems this week but they held their own more than adequately.

Anne B´s
was about the ladies on our rounabouts and Mary K´s told of a dance where her partner was monopolised by a gaggle of German ladies.

And so, yet another TWC came to an end and we all started to look forward to the following week.

Chris J

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

WordCounter - it works!

Some of you may remember Maureen (I think it was!) mentioning a web site which checks your work and reports how many times the same words have been used.

Well today I used it on a draft 900 word article of mine and what an eye opener! (He embarrassingly admits!)

It is truly a fantastic product - and it is free and simple to use, which of course are always the best web tools.

Go on try it - you might be amazed how often you repeat yourself - like I was, despite the fact that is usually my feedback at TWC!

Here it is Wordcounter

Why the photo? - well it will go with the article of course!

PS Thanks Maureen!

Rob Innis

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Torrevieja Hot Pens

Apologies for this being late but I have been busy with other things. I was not asked to do the report until midway through the meeting so there were no notes kept therefore these notes will be short and sweet.

This week's meeting was the first of the scheduled "Hot Pens" and 15 Members attended. ( More than was expected.)

The choice of topic was selected as -"swarming", "swarming over," or just "over".

As usual, after the allotted 10 minutes, each of the attendees read their compositions and again it was amazing how each of us had a different take on the subject matter. The various poems and short stories varied from bees and insects, breakdown of relationships, car thefts, football, limericks, the influx of foreigners to Spain and last, but by no means least, was Lisa's adventure story and although this was unfinished it was agreed that she should continue with this.

After the break, some members continued with readings.

Rosemary read an extract from her book and requested feedback. The members enjoyed it especially the dialogue which was thought to be good and precise.

Norma gave us a rendition of her story about a young girl student from Barbados who finds herself pregnant despite warnings from her aunt.

Glyn has rewritten Chapter 1 of his novel and everyone thought that this was better as it "fleshed out" the hero.

Brenda unusually for her had written a poem. This was a highly descriptive piece of her visit to Norway to see the Northern Lights.

There was no time for us to hear Maureen's item so she will kick off next week's meeting.

As I said earlier, short and sweet.

Ian C

Thursday, 21 May 2009


To identify EITHER the similarities OR the differences between two things, use "compare to." To identify BOTH the similarities AND the differences, use "compare with."
So now we know! :)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Who is the Nation's favourite Poet?

The BBC are inviting you to vote for the Nation's Favourite Poet - visit their site to vote and

'Click on a poet to explore their life and legacy with poems, video and more'


Sunday, 17 May 2009

We received this email from a Spanish lady (who is a writer)

Hello, friend!

My name is Rosa Sanchez. My blog is "La inquietud de las palabras

Just to tell you that next Sunday 24th at 13:00 h. at the front door of the
Townhall in Pilar de la Horadada we've going to read the "Solidarity
Manifesto" to demand urgent measures from public authorities and governments
to erradicate "hunger" in our world.
Why don't you join us? We wait for you! Thanks.


If you feel like supporting her cause, visit her blog.


Friday, 15 May 2009

If you happen to be in Southampton

...on May 22nd at 2pm why not check this out:

So, what is this all about? Penny Legg's Writing Buddies are a group of professional and aspiring writers who meet for an informal cuppa and a chat at Borders bookshop in Southampton, every other week. Our first meeting will be on Friday 22 May 2009, at 2pm.

We are not a writing circle and so we do not read our own work, nor do we offer critique or proof reading services. Instead, we chat about anything writing related, from market news to current successes, problems to overcome, plots to move forward and successes to share. Anything in fact that the writers meeting that week want to talk about.

It will be fun and free. So, if you find yourself in Southampton and want to join in, pull up a chair and enjoy!

Some of the TWCers (as we are still called!) may remember Penny's visit to us back in February; well, the Buddies idea came out of some of our brainstorming. It will be interesting to see how it develops.


Stranger than fiction - the film

As Ian mentioned, his highly original poem evoked memories for me of a recent film. This is my review, published in The Levante Journal #1 (June 2008).

A most unusual film that works on several levels, ‘Stranger than Fiction’ could be regarded as Will Ferrell’s breakout part, because its resonances are similar in scope and effect to Jim Carey’s bravura performance in ‘The Truman Show.’

Harold Crick (Ferrell) is a mild-mannered tax inspector whose life is totally boring. His every move seems to be timed to obsessive precision, whether that’s walking along a street or handling mundane paperwork. He’s going through life but is abysmally unaware of living. That is until he starts hearing a female voice narrating his every move – his breakfast choice, the exact number of toothbrush strokes etc. A voice in his head is not good, particularly when a few clues about his future are dropped into parenthesis. Weird becomes scary. Soon he believes that he’s a character in a novel and the author is intent on killing him off. Perhaps he should have called in the men in white coats, but instead he consults Hilbert, a literature professor (Dustin Hoffman), who suggests that Harold should strive to turn his life around, from a tragedy to a romantic comedy. Easier said than done, however.

Unaware of Harold’s real existence, the chain-smoking reclusive author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) hits writer’s block. She has a delivery deadline approaching so her publisher sends along an assistant (Queen Latifah) to help Karen find a way to kill off her protagonist, Harold.

Meanwhile, Harold is inspecting the books of anti-establishment baker Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Some indefinable connection is made between them and slowly, inevitably, Harold’s controlled life begins to crumble and he enters unknown territory. But it is not only Harold who is struggling to gain control. Karen, the author, is at odds with herself too.

Ferrell portrays his character with finesse and understanding, indeed with great dramatic depth. We share in his bewilderment, his anxiety and his coming of age as he journeys to what seems his predestined demise at the hands of an unknown author.

Thanks to the excellent cast and witty script, the premise works while we suspend disbelief. The story is about loneliness, self-awareness, responsibility and fatalism. In an understated, sometimes heartbreaking way, this tragicomedy says how important it is to seize the day. It’s a surprisingly moving and heart-warming film about creativity, relationships and the lack of them.


Thursday, 14 May 2009

Torrevieja Writers' Tales

This week 15 Members of the Writers' Circle attended the meeting. This week's hot topic(s) were, "The Less Said The Better", ( Our writings surely can't be that bad ), or "Changes". Prior to the actual readings of their work, there were several items of business to be conducted:

(1) The suggested date for a visit to see the eagles did not suit the majority of the attendees and it was decided to postpone until next year. It also had to be explained to Brenda that we would not be staying in the "Hotel California".

(2) It was agreed that we should subscribe to the "New Writer" magazine as this provided lots of information, tips and technical assistance to the aspiring writer. (Some of us more perspiring than aspiring with our writing )

(3) The workshop to be held on the 24th June is to be short story based using the Writing Magazine's competition topics for the months of September, October and November. The story should be no more than 1700 words and it would help, but NOT essential if members had something prepared on any of the topics.

And so the tales started.

Rob kicked off with a piece of fiction (most unusual for him!! See what I mean about perspiring?) entitled "Mediterranean Lady Seeks A Friend" about two individuals meeting through a website. Personally, I thought the guy should have just toured the roundabouts on the N332. There was lots of positive feedback and we all await the outcome to be revealed in the second part of the story.

Glyn as usual provided hilarious entertainment with his rendition of a poem entitled "Timbucktoo". I hope members didn't get the hump with this one. This was followed by an equally good tale called "Have a Drink On Me" and anyone feeling unwell should take care with any drinks offered to them.

Heinke, in her inimitable style, gave us all a most humourous way of determining whether or not she should go to Iceland; (the country not the store). I don't know if the pros outweighed the cons or not but it was certainly a novel way of arriving at a decision. Any decision!!

Brenda continued with an extract from her novel about "The Diaries" and family relationships.
Again some positive feedback here especially on the use of dialogue.


Brian took as his theme the topic "Less said etc." and gave us an interesting insight into the lives of the Marriott family and Edgar Wallace, the novelist. Brian's still not any further forward in determining why the famous lion was called "Wallace" but does it matter as the monologue was a roaring success.

Ian told the story, in verse, of a young man who leads the most mundane life, has no friends, is alone and finds only excitement in his dreams. Nik said it reminded him of the film "Stranger than Fiction". A number of members awaited Ian's usual twist in the tail. The twist was that there was no twist.

Ann B's story was untitled but told of life in Jamaica in 1974. Not the usual scenes of palms, coconuts and white beaches but the lawlessness of the gang culture and in particular the theft of a house. Yes, you did read it correctly - the theft of a house. Members gasped in disbelief at this fact. It was suggested to Ann that perhaps she should gather together a number of these anecdotes for future publication.

Jane wrote a story that morning on the topic "Changes" and especially lifestyle changes for her heroine and the family she helped. A lot was packed into this short piece and with a little polishing could be used for some magazine's 5 minute fiction.

Mary told of her trepidation at being asked last week to do a "Hot Pen". The piece of verse showed off Mary's poetic skills to perfection.

Cynthia gave a most illuminating reading with her piece entitled "Pets I Have Killed". This was a collection of anecdotes collected from friends and personal experience of the demise of their family pets. Each tale( or should that be tail?) got worse as the story went on. I don't think "Pet's World" staff magazine will publish this item.

Last, but by no means least, came Maureen with a piece of flash fact as opposted to fiction called "The Waterhole" and told of a giraffe's basic instinct to survive despite the threat of lions. Maureen read this item quite vividly that pictures were easily conjured up in all of our minds.

Yet again the subjects covered were diverse and interesting and I guess that's why we keep coming back for more.

Ian C

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

'DO NOT DISTURB' - short story competition

The Hotel Montíboli in Villajoyosa announces the second edition of its literary competition “Do not disturb” based on short love stories with the only requirement that the story line must be based on an unexpected night. The winning story will be awarded with a romantic evening at the Hotel Montíboli with dinner at the Emperador Restaurant and accommodation included. The consolation prize will be a one night stay at the hotel.

The rules of the competition establish that the narrative style is free, as long as the genre is a love story and it is based on an unexpected night.

The deadline of submission is 30th June.

The rules of the competition are available on the hotel’s website and the literary pieces can be sent by electronic mail (preferably) to or to the following postal address:
Hotel Montíboli Partida Montíboli, S/N 03570 Villajoyosa (Alicante)

Under the “Cultural Montíboli” theme, the hotel is undertaking a series of cultural activities that were started last year in commemoration of the hotel’s 40th anniversary, which includes this literary competition.

The announcement of the winners will be made public on 15th July 2009 and the jury will be formed by journalists and writers from the province of Alicante.

Situated on a cliff-top and in front of a semi-private beach, the Hotel Montíboli is one of the most exclusive hotels in the country. It belongs to the prestigious Relais&Châteaux guide and Luxury Alliance; and has received various prizes: the architectural prize from the Costa Blanca, “particularly pleasant hotel” distinction and recommended restaurant in the Michelin Guide and Gold Plate award to the chef of the Emperador Restaurant.


Saturday, 9 May 2009

What's in a name?

As a fully paid up member of the now reformed LAGs section (aka late arrival girls) of our writing circle, I have been pondering possible acronyms and decided that our present name – the Torrevieja Writers’ Circle or TWC – is really rather boring.

Since we do so much more than merely write, how much more fun it would be to be known as the Torrevieja Writers And Talkers Society, for example – the TWATS

Or how about

Torrevieja Writers, Artists, Dancers, Dining and Lunching Elite, or TWADDLE?

Or Torrevieja Writers & Intellectual Talking Society – the TWITS?

Perhaps the TWITTERS - Torrevieja Intelligent, Terrifically Talented and Erudite Reading Society?

Or even Torrevieja Writers: Intellectually & Technologically Challenged, However, Eloquent & Refined Society – the TWITCHERS

Or maybe Torrevieja Writers, Eggheads, Readers and Poets – the TWERPS?

But now that we have entered the 21st century, we could call ourselves the

Brainy, Lovable Old Gaffers & Grandmas, Eggheads & Rakes – the BLOGGERS?

Who fancies a new name?


Thursday, 7 May 2009

Torrevieja Twits?

I´ve just been watching the English news - a depressing thing to do. It seems that we, the great unwashed, really don´t get to say much about stuff and always end up getting done over. I thought the picture says it all.

However, Wednesday came - my favourite day of the week, with yet another meeting of TWC- and I ended up being really quite cheered-up and positive.

The meeting began in glorious pre-summer weather after taking coffee OUT-OF-DOORS(!!!) at poolside for the first time this year.

Our illustrious Chairman, Nik, handed over briefly to our illustrious in-training sub-chairman, Rob, (did I mention that he was voted in by a spontaneous, unanimous vote last week? - actually, Glynn voted against as a matter of form rather than any show of dislike or disapproval- but I digress), related a few interesting pieces of news:that there was now a new Poet Laureate who was not only a woman, but also a Scot who is going to give away her salary!!! Slight tremours and indrawn breaths were heard from the far end of the table - we shall not say from exactly whence and whom they came....

He also brought along some more info on the proposed gaddabout to see the eagles and a list was passed round to establish what interest there might be. A possible date was 28 May. Watch this space.

Chris reminded that she was away for a couple of meetings and someone else was needed to do the blog. Volunteers, please!!

The topic for the day was The Secret or The Tower.

Four people wrote on this

Mary K wrote a poem in the style of Christina Rosetti about a woman whose illegitimate child is her secret, a secret which she has always been afraid to tell. However, when it is revealed by a jealous would-be lover, she is freed and is able to live without fear.

Chris wrote a very short poem about a deep secret which was never to be revealed. Needless to say, the nosey Writers were gravely disappointed not to be let in on it!

Brian´s prose piece was from his writing on Spain and told of Jose de Rivera and his servant Manuel going to a cave Jose discovered earlier. It provoked quite a bit of discussion and advice given included that there needed to be more interaction between the chacters.

Cynthia´s piece was about a secret she´d kept for 60 years! How she´d kept quiet and let her brothers take the blame for her eating their precious late 1940´s- bought-with-ration-coupons chocolate Easter eggs. She still feels guilty!!

The remaining pieces were on different subjects:

TJ wrote a funny poem (to balance the doom and gloom of his previous week´s pieces) called
Inflation, which compared life to a punctured tyre and how it needed to be pumped up now and again.

piece was a debate as to whether or not we should change the name of our group from boring old TWC to TWATS or TWADDLE or even TWITS or TWERPS. She explained what the acronyms stood for and I must say, one or two were quiteappropriate....

Ian´s poem The Rescue was also meant to balance his usually more serious output and it certainly did! I hope certain people close to our canny Scot don´t look in his wrting notebook.

Douglas read 2 pieces; one serious poem about grief after a bereavement and the recovery which can take place when another person enters one´s life and one about good intentions which never seem to get put into action.

I have just had the most awful feeling!!! Nik , Our Illustrious Chairman wrote something and I can´t remember what it was !!!!! Dooooom!!!! But it was very good, whatever it was !

After the break, it was decided that we do a Hot Pen, much to the trepidation of members. After all, we hadn´t done one for yonks.

It turned out to be a word Currently/currantly which was chosen and despite much muttering in the ranks, people came up with some ingenious pieces, both prose and poetry. Well done, everyone!

Finally, a discussion took place about what to do in the Workshop. It was decided that it would be about short story writing and would aim for us all entering a competion in one of the writing magazines in the autumn.

A final piece of news - Rob informs us that we have won 8 euros on the lottery. Yipppeee!!!!

See you in a couple of weeks,

Chris J

Friday, 1 May 2009

First female Poet Laureate named

Carol Ann Duffy has been named as the new Poet Laureate, the first woman to be appointed in the 341-year history of the post.

Duffy, 53, who takes over immediately from Andrew Motion and will serve 10 years in the position, says she will give the £5,750 annual payment away.

The author, who is best known for her collection The World's Wife, is also the first Scot to be named Laureate.

Duffy said she felt "very honoured and humbled" by her appointment.

For more click through to the BBC site - the link is in the post title.