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.