Thursday, 30 December 2010


Only 11 members were in attendance which allowed plenty of time for the hot pen which was scheduled as this weeks theme.

In the absence of Nik and Rob, Ian took the chair

Prior to the readings, it was agreed that, through this blog, acknowledgement should be made of the work carried out by Nik on behalf of the members. At this time, members took the opportunity to raise some issues which they felt warranted further discussion early in the New Year by a greater number of the members. These included
(1) Should all people, with the exception of invited guest speakers, be asked to pay towards the weekly cost of the meeting irrespective of whether they have a drink or not?

(2) Perhaps more individuals should be encouraged to write whether they wished to be published or not.

(3)With a view to (2) above members should preferrably be given only one weekly topic on which to write
and that preference be given to those who have written on the week's theme to read out their piece. It was also felt that by adopting this approach, individuals may be more forthcomingin thier comments as there would be a direct comparison of subject matter. To enable more members to read their piece it should be made clear that individual items should be restricted to 1,000 words maximum. As a trial run for the aforementioned, the consensus of opinion was that next week's theme should be "Going Home".

(4) There always seemed to be a lack of feedback on those who wrote poetry and that perhaps occasionally there should be a poetry week to encourage members to try a different medium, either rhyme or  free verse as a challeng to their writing skills.

All of the above were presented for further discussion by the group.

Before commencing the hot pen Jenny gave us a flavour of Xmas Days  Past when meals were taken by family members in various eating establishments.

Mary K gave us a poem entitled "Ringing in the New".

Anne G provided an insight into the Writers Circle with her poem.

Cynthia also took Xmas as her theme for her poetic contribution.

Jane gave an account of how siblings reacted when their mother died.

After the break the group undertook the hot pen with the randomly selected word "Go".

Gerry told the tale of a parting at a railway station.

Cynthia gave us a story of parents telling their daughter's boy friend to leave after his abuse of her.

Mary M gave an insight into a couple breaking up.

Mary K's poem was about attending a ball.

Ann B told of coping with the cold and snow and how she prefers living in Spain.

Mary S told of how recently she decided to go to the UK but was met by a lack of  Xmas cheer and faced with nothing but doom and gloom.

Anne G gave us a story about children playing

Jane's contribution was about a family feuding at Xmas and was also about Granny not being there.

Jenny's piece was a poem about a prisoner.

Brenda wrote an item detailing her love of winter.

Ian told the story of a couple breaking up after a malicious office gossip tells on one of her colleagues.

Ian C

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Xmas Feast

This week a total of 19 attended the meeting.

TJ kicked of proceedings with "Ceol Na Marra". A poem written in 3 parts, Solo, Duet, Coda about a man's love of the sea and a beautiful woman. This was well received by the group with lots of good lines. My favourite was the last verse,

I have a want to leave this lea
'Ceol Na Marra' hums in my ear
She sings the music of the sea,
"You know your destiny is here".

Maureen gave us a very descriptive piece with excellent imagery of a journey in Brazil.

Margaret's humourous narrative was on the joys(?) of dieting. Most apt for this time of year.

Jane vented her feelings with a rant on people with computers which seem to have taken over their lives.

Ian's story was a reworked version of the Tay Bridge Disaster. For those who had not heard it before the ending came as something of a surprise having been lulled into a false sense of security.

Mary K's poem was a Xmas message to the group using the letters of the word "Christmas".

Ann B also used the Xmas theme for her poem about the joys of the festive season. This was not one for the "Bah! Humbug!!" brigade.

John McGregor attempted something completely different for him-singing his item about song lyrics.

Heather took a rather philosophical look at Xmas with her poem about changing bodyshape and fashion throughout the year with each month bringing its own trials and tribulations.

John Major gave us a prequel to last week's reading about the two sales reps wnot wanting to attend the sales demonstration and who hatch their plot over lunch. This was a good insight to life on the road.

Jen explained her piece as poetic introductions to Christmas carols and songs that had been performed by her choir. This was innovative as it had everyone trying to guess which song would follow its intro.

Nik's item was a sci-fi piece about an being in outer space.

Last, but by no means least, Anne G. in her own inimitable style gave us her rendition of a Marriot Edgar poem entitled "The Battle of Hastings". This had everyone in fits of laughter and was a fitting end to the meeting.

Ian C

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

'Twas The Week Before Xmas

This week 20 members attended as well as 3 guests from the St. Javier Poetry Group.
Various apologies were tendered as well as Seasons Greetings.
Nik advised that he had received an email from Claire Lawrence from the "In Front" magazine indicating that she would accept submissions from members.
Details of a competition-Pop Fiction were available. This is for stories based on music.

This week's theme was "How Dare You".

John Major started the readings with a very humerous story about 2 sales reps., reluctant to go toa sales pitch, take extreme measures to avoid attendance.

Margaret gave us a poem, written from a male point of view which was inspired by a moment's experience in the port of Alicante.

Cynthia detailed the pitfalls of HD TV in her poem which detailed the imperfections of those appearing on the new media.

Glyn continued his "Khandahar" story relating his heroes recovery after being blown up.

John McG provided another funny tale entitled "Minced Beef". This was observations of John's culinary skills and provided a good sense of family life.

Chris took this week's theme for her poem about a man wearing pink.

Mary K's offering called "Are You Being Served?" outlined a personal experience of lack of service in a cafe/bar in Playa Flamenca.

Anne G provided a story about two companions, one of whom was to write a book about his expoloits in the Middle and Far East.

Jane's poem "The Joys of Xmas Shopping" was a nostalgic look to past Xmas.

Ian's offering was a poem written some time ago called "Santa Didn't Come". Members thought this was very sad and needed to be published somewhere.

Heather gave us another of her Rufus McGregor. the tartan toy dog, stories. In this one, Rufus becomes the star of the show when he takes part in a nativity play. This was a story with good observations.

Alan read two pieces although not written by him. The first was a story about a cat and the second about three dogs attending the vet. Both stories were very funny.

Nik's piece entitled "Normal Savage" was a story detailing the origins of Tarzan.

Ian C

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A Virgin Writes Home

 Quite a few people asked Anne Flynn if they could have a copy of her latest piece for the Writers`Circle so she agreed to have it put on the blog.


Honestly, mother its been a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.  The last straw was having to go to Bethlehem for the census-taking but let me start at the beginning.

There I was busy sewing my wedding gown, when  this white and gold apparition floated down and said I had been chosen to be the mother of the Son of God, but that I would have to remain a virgin as owing to a busy timetable it would not be possible for God to leave heaven. I said something along the lines of “What if I said no?” and the angel mumbled something along the lines that if I did not agree, swarms of locusts would cover the land and the rivers would be full of frogs, and blood.    Politeness forbade me to mention that they had already tried that method once, but as I did not fancy   drinking  polluted water for the next year or so, I reluctantly agreed.  Talk about Hobson´s choice!  

Then another angel appeared to Joseph and told  him that I would have a baby at the request of God, but that I would remain  a virgin.  Do you know what he said, mother?   He said “If you believe that, you will believe anything”   He went around sulking for a while , but after we had a big row I think he  came to terms with the situation.  Must remember to ask him if his angel threatened him with frogs as well.

So nine months into my pregnancy, Caesar Augustus decreed that we had to go to Bethlehem for the census.  Nice timing, Augustus.   I was pretty annoyed with Joseph because he had promised to put up some shelves in the kitchen and of course he put off doing the job for months, not to mention making a cot for the baby. “ Call yourself a carpenter,” I said, very sarcastically.

I had also asked him to book a room at the inn, but of course he forgot to ask cousin Matthew to do this when he made the journey to Bethlehem and – yes you have guessed it – when we arrived at the inn, it was full.   I was in a right strop, I can tell you. “ No brownie points for forward planning then, Joseph,”  I told him. It was fortunate that the innkeeper took pity on us and allowed us to sleep in his stable. Joseph trudged through the streets but there was no midwife available.What a fiasco! I will tell you something, mother, this baby will definitely be an only child.  I am  not going through that again, frogs or no frogs.

So there we were, just settling down for a nice cup of coffee with the baby asleep in the manger when a whole group of shepherds come calling.  Yes you have guessed it.  Yet another pesky angel had been spreading the word-  Not content with that,  a whole choir of angels arrived at the hillside  and started singing.   Must have frightened the sheep, no end.  Anyway to cut a long story short, the shepherds came to have a look at their Saviour. One of them said to Joseph “the baby looks just like you” which gave me a the best  laugh I had had in months.  I told them the baby was to be called Jesus as my angel had requested.    I had always liked the name Luke better, but my angel had a rather  a forceful personality so I did not make too much of a fuss.  By the time the shepherds  had left my coffee was stone cold.

Joseph and I completed the census and started making plans to return home but just as we were ready to depart three kings from the east came wandering in.  They had traveled hundreds of miles, they said, with the aid of a star which had showed them the way. Well, it makes a change from angels. They were very thoughtful and had brought the baby gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The first  two would come in  handy, but myrrh is a symbol of suffering.  As if I had not suffered enough already!  

So that´s the end of my tale of woe, mother.  Joseph still has not put up the kitchen  shelves, but at least I now have a cot for the baby.  I wonder what the future holds for him?  Whatever happens   I hope he does not turn out to be a carpenter, like his father.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

So You Want to Write a Novel

Compel Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction Readers to Turn the Page!

This neat little piece of advice is brought to you from the blog of Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents. Although it mainly applies to fiction novel writers, short story writers would do well to heed its message.

The first page sells the book. The last page sells the next book. –Mickey Spillane

Agents, editors and book buyers only read far enough to make a decision.
If they don’t like what they read on page one, they won’t turn the page.
Book buyers may not read the second sentence of a book in a bookstore.
This leads to the need for “The S Theory of Storytelling” for fiction and narrative nonfiction that writers want to read like novels:

Something Said
or Something Else
on page one must be compelling enough
to make agents, editors, and book buyers turn the page.

Your book will compete with all of the ways consumers can use their free time and discretionary income.
So every word you write is an audition to get your readers to read the next word.
Every line you write must convince your readers to read the next line.
Assume you have only one sentence to convince browsers to keep reading.
Every page you write must arouse enough interest to keep readers turning the page.
And you face that challenge on every page you write except the last one.
The last page must make readers want to read your next book.

Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents
Helping Writers Launch Careers Since 1972


Monday, 13 December 2010

A Plethora of Poetry

Before the meeting commenced Nick announced that he had had a phone call from Douglas intimating his apologies and also his marriage to Rita.

This week's subject was "Writer's Circle" and 25 members were in attendance.

Maureen read a poem entitled "A Father's Tale" and was about how, as they grow older, daughters stop confiding in their fathers and the fathers do not appear to notice until too late. Everyone thought that this was most profound.

Jane, in poetic fashion, read her piece outlining the changing seasons of the year.Members remarked on the use of words and their rhymes. This also brought to mind what we do not have here in Spain - distinct seasons.

Christina potrayed Xmas in her reading of a poem about a serving soldier being visited by Santa. Again, the members thought this quite thought provoking.

Heather gave us a gentle children's story about the love of a toy dog which is inadvertently put in the washing machine and its appearance changed much to the consternation of its owner. The little girl is advised that although the outside appearance is changed, it is still the same dog that she has always loved. Comments for this were good with most of us thinking that this was suitable for reading to children.

Mary K chose this week's theme for her poem about individual members of the writer's circle and then as a group.

Chris also chose this week's theme for her poem and the difficulty in knowing what to write about.

Anne F had everyone in stitches with her story "A Christmas Tale". This was a modern day version of the birth of Christ as told by Mary to her Mother. Most felt sorry for Joseph who was shown to be most inept in that he forgot to book a room at the inn, had still to make a cot despite being a carpenter and was now being asked to raise a child that wasn't his own. This was an excellent, topical story.

John McG, as part of his study course, had to adapt one of his own stories as a play for radio.The story was about a man and woman who have known each other casually over a period of years and who eventually have a relationship. This part of the adaptation was about the telephone conversation which led them getting together. A lot of comments related to the contrived conversation which did not come over as being true to life although it was acknowledged that writing a play for radio broadcast was extremely difficult.

Glyn gave us a reading of a rewrite of the battle scene from his Khandahar story. This was most graphic and caused a lot of thinking within the group about the dramatisation of the action as it unfolded.

Cynthia's poem related a tale of a group of male holidaymakers on a flight from England to Alicante as they headed for their sojourn in Benidorm. Most of the members who travel back and forth have, no doubt, been subjected to this type of scenario at one time or another.

Of the 10 people who read this week, there were 6 poems hence the title of this blog- "A Plethora of Poetry".

Ian C

Placed in top 4 from 57

Rob Innis, more known for his non fiction articles, took up the challenge of writing a romantic scene in a maximum of  100 words and was very pleased to be placed in the top 4 from a total entry of 57.

More here

Friday, 10 December 2010

Saturday, 4 December 2010

How True

I saw this literary quote on another site today:

"The fact that writers will go through so much to remain writers says something, perhaps everything. It would be far easier (and nearly always more profitable) to become a real estate agent." 
-Maria Lenhart

How true! 

Rob Innis

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Stepping Stones

© Copyright Phil Eptlett and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The Subject for the day was "Stepping Stones" as illustrated by the beautiful picture above.

Three members wrote poems on the subject Ann Grierson, Mary Kilduff and myself.
Anne´s and Mary´s were very wise, philosophical observations on the patterns of life. 
My poem can be read on my poetry blog (see link on sidebar).

Geoff, as usual, came up with something a bit different with his piece about a couple, George and Ruby Stone, who made their living by dancing disco. He cleverly wove the story of a relationship in crisis round the titles of Rolling Stones songs, ending with George´s final parting shot : " When are you leaving Ruby, Tuesday?"  Brilliant!!

Ann Flynn gave us another piece in her Dementia series! Very funny and horribly familiar to all of us who have also peeled a banana and ended up about to eat the skin with the banana in the bin.Perhaps not all of us have used our Rabbit vibrators as egg whisks though! Or........?

Glyn took us back a bit in his Khandahar novella so that we could see how his character is beginning to slide into psychosis at an earlier stage. Very scary stuff.

T.J. came with a self published book he´d put together for a tour he´s going to do/doing(?) with his paintings. Each painting has a poem telling its story. He read one called "Racing for the Mark", which, even to a dedicated landlubber like myself, was thrilling and very evocative.

John Major read half of a long piece called "The Phantom Stone" about two colleagues going to a meeting and on the way deciding to avoid it and make up a reason for not attending. Some very funny descriptions here.

John McGregor read another reminiscence from his days as a salesman. It was thought he had an excellent basis for a fictional piece here.

Gerry returned to his police character, Chief Inspector Farrell. Interesting but Point of View issues to be sorted out.

Nik began the meeting by reading out notes from an agents´ blog(?) about essential elements to grab attention.
As I was still scratching and whistling after a late-ish arrival, my attention was wandering rather than grabbed at this point. Apologies, Nik. Anyone wanting more info should ask Nik.
However, I do remember him quoting Mickey Spillane as saying that the first page sells your book and the last page sells your next book.

This being the last page of today´s blog, see you next week.

PS Reminder! Nik has the list to sign up for the Christmas lunch.

Monday, 29 November 2010

New Blog!

It has been suggested that I should try to get my poems "out there" somehow. As I doubt that I will ever get published for mone or, for that matter, at all, I have decided to take the matter into my own hands and create another blog for myself dedicated purely to my poems. Howzatt!!!

Anyone interested can Google "Costa Chris´s Poetry Blog" and see if they can find me.

Chris J

LATEST NEWS!! Googling the above doesn´t get you anywhere and even the URL Blogger accepted for the blogsite is not recognised by Google.
What I have done, however, is to add the new blog to our list on the right and the link works(!). Now why should that be that the URL works as a link but not if you type it in at Google start page? Anyone wiser than me at computers able to advise???

Friday, 26 November 2010

Goodbye, My Love.

Apologies from various members for non-attendance and welcome back to Geoff and to Ian, looking remarkably unscathed after 6 weeks Down Under and still with Scottish accent intact.

Today´s theme was "Goodbye, My Love".

Five members had written on this.

Jenny´s was a flash fiction "Dear John" letter ending the relationship and finishing, hilariously, with the words:"I wish you luck for the future as I know it can´t be easy on Death Row:"

Mary Kilduff´s Poem was a much sadder goodbye poem.

Ian read a poem "Thoughts of You" based on a Jack Vettriano picture.

Gerry´s poem was based on a sad story of the note left by a man committing suicide

Chris´s poem,  reproduced below, was a cry of joy at the end of a miserable relationship.

The other members offerered a variety of things.

Glyn continued his novella "Flight Home From Kandahar."

Margaret Rowland continued her reminiscence of a visit to friends in Spain.

Heinke described a 69th birthday party with people "Blinged up to the nines." This brought on a lively discussion as to the origin of the phrase. I Googled it and found numerous suggestions but nothing definitely sure. In other words, if you want to know, look it up yourself!!

Alan Gillespie´s Spike made a welcome return, still lusting after Mandy and determined to wrest her away from Ted. Unfortunately, Spike is scooped up by the town´s dog catcher and taken to the pound.

John McGregor gave a description of interviewing Junior Salesmen.

Geoff Lowe´s piece described a weird tutor advising a student on how to write a poem.

Mary Morris´s was about Nora, the village gossip and a sensational turn of events in the reading of a will.

Nik gave us his latest Western story.

Chris J´s Poem. ( Well, I´m writing the blog, aren´t I?)

Goodbye, My Love.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!
You´ve gone away!
A sudden shove
Goodbye, my love!

In the Parking Lot
The Council forgot
The manhole cover.
Adieu, my lover!

Hip,Hip Hooray!
Just one quick glance
I took a chance.
I made a lunge
And saw you plunge
Far down the hole.
God rest your soul!

Hip,Hip Hooray!
You´ve been swept away
To some far bay.
You were a shit
And quite unfit
To be my lover!
Allelujah, manhole cover!

Hip, Hip Hooray!
 O, wondrous day!
You were a swine
Now life´s divine.
Hip, Hip Hooray!
That´s what I say!!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

New Date For Benidorm!!!

Further to info in this week´s blog:

Due to mutterings that people who wanted to go on the Benidorm trip but couldn´t as they would be in the UK by then, the new  date is 10 DECEMBER.

As previously, contact Jenny for more details. See contact list for her number.

Two members of TWC, Rob Innis and John Major have work published in the WA anthology:

Writers Abroad NSSW Anthology
Online writing group, Writers Abroad, are publishing an anthology of creative writing themed on Expat Life with a preface by Lorraine Mace to coincide with the National Short Story Week (22nd-29th November 2010).
Following an appeal for submissions, 29 fictional short stories were selected to make up the anthology, which is available free from  in eBook format to be read on either on computers or eReaders.
Writers Abroad is especially for Expat writers to exchange ideas, views and news on writing and to offer support and constructive feedback on each others work.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Dogs, Bad Languge and Benidorm.

Before getting down to the business of the day, for anyone who still hasn´t seen/read Jenny´s or Nik´s mail about the Benidorm night out, here follows repeat info.

Daves´s coaches are doing a night out in Benidorm on 
 17 December. Cost 12 euros. Pick up time, depending on where you live, between 18.30 and 19.30. Return from Benidorm 1a.m. Anyone interested should contact Jenny for further details - (see contacts list).
Today´s theme was "Man´s Best Friend"
Nobody actually wrote on the theme, but I like dogs and since I´m doing the blog .........
Nik started the meeting reading something from Agents´ Blogs about the overuse of certain words (glance, blink, stare, hiss and sigh were mentioned). Uncomfortable shufflings in the group were followed by surreptitious crossings out.

We then proceeded to the day´s readings:

Margaret wrote a reminiscence of a day out in the wine district to visit a former Spanish student who had lodged with her years ago. Very good descriptions of almond harvesting and an amusing observation of the wife in the family learning her English from a boxed set of "Friends". A vigorous use of the word "cute" was noticed.

John Major gave us another of Joe´s adventures, this time working in the Middle East.

Heather gave us the back story of one of five school friends. The poor girl had suffered from a Cruella-type landlady when doing her university practical year abroad as a French Language student.

Brenda continued Minerva´s story. Poor old Min ends up pregnant after allowing Samuel, her boss, to have his way with her.Doom is sure to follow!!!!

John McGregor wrote a piece about an F-word fixated rock star who, full of himself, gets thrown out of the band.

Jenny read out a 50-word piece which she´d written a while ago but happened to have with her, on the same subject.

Mary Kilduff´s poem was about trying to write a limerick.

Chris read an observation on expats who nervously leave their urbanisations to visit Spain.

Jane had another French story, this time connected to the death of Princess Diana.

There was quite a lot of chat about the pieces read out and several people will have to read their stuff next time.


* Night out in Benidorm  17 Dec
* Christmas lunch at the Olympia 22 Dec


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Kennedy, Gagarin, Elvis remembered.

14 November 2010

There were 15 members and the head honcho, Nik, on Wednesday. Subject of the day was Where were you when.....?
Hence the piccies, as these three gentlemen tend to be amongst the top memories for people of our generation.

Before cutting to the chase, a piece of major information.
An executive decision was made that our Christmas lunch will be on December 22 after that day´s meeting at the Olympia Restaurant. Details as to guests, cost, menu etc are still to be decided. Just look in your diaries and make sure that the date is OK for you. We have preliminarily booked for 20.

Wednesday´s Meeting.

Mary S´s piece centred round where she was when Elvis, Kennedy, Gagarin and other people were in the news, bringing up memories from most of us.

Anne G´s recollection was of 1966 when she moved into a new home and was watching the world cup.

John E read a moving poem about the 7/7 London bombings and the memorial to the victims which was placed in Hyde Park.

Cynthia´s memory was of being in a car leaving hospital and hearing about the 9/11 collapse of the Twin Towers. Her own problems and irritations were brought into perspective with a vengeance.

The other members gave a variety of pieces not linked to the day´s theme.

John Major
read a further episode about Joe who, we learned, liked "pleasuring himself in the bathroom". A few coffees went down the wrong way until it was made clear that he was addicted to the (for him) joy of blackhead squeezing.

John McGregor read a short story about the people on a cruise ship, centering primarily on Arthur , described as a one-eyed randy bugger. The story needed a bit of lopping and tightening but had good moments and was deemed worthy of tinkering with.

Chris cannot think of anything but hips at the moment and doled out another episode on husband´s fracture.

Mary K, in a forward planning mode, gave us a poem on Christmas and all it entails in organising.

Glynn read the synopsis of his story "Flight From Kandahar". He has upped it from a short story of 1500 words to novella length of 32,000 words.

Brenda, departing from her novel read a piece about a rescue dog called Rex.

See you next week. Don´t forget 22 December!!!!!

Chris J

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Fire, pulp and fridges

Meeting of 3 November. Sixteen attended, with apologies from Heinke, Maureen, Ann, Chris and Glyn.

We got off to a good start with Rob reading chapter 2 of his ‘autobiographical’ book. It was all about leaving school and finding work and nostalgically reminded many of us of British Telecom’s Buzby, careers fairs and strange hair styles.

Alan read a poem about Halloween, hoodwinking the hoodies trick-or-treating.

Brenda gave us another chapter in Belle’s fraught life, throwing over Richard and starting up with Matthew.

Jane’s piece was an amusing item about a couple who bought her house but kept pestering her about the most basic of things, such as how to get the fridge to work… Er, plug it in?

Mary K’s poem was about the fatal attraction of a man she was warned against, the gainsayers hinting that she was playing with fire. She’d rather get burnt than bored, it seems.

John McG read out another piece for his OU writing course, about the wife of an habitual jailbird and how she coped. He stepped into her shoes with ease. Particularly liked the description ‘her bruised battered heart lurched.’

Heather read out a letter from her Mum to her Dad, when they were engaged. It was in February 1942 and he was in Egypt. We can see where Heather gets her writing style from; this was an interesting epistle, evoking the privations and the feelings of that time. If the rest of the found letters are of this caliber, they deserve to be in a book, accompanied by photos from her father.

Gerry tackled the theme, playing with fire, relating a rugby player’s attempt at getting into the first team in the pursuit of a neat ending that played with words.

Cynthia was reluctant to read out her poem about ‘playing with fire’, but in fact it got a lot of laughs.

John M read out a piece about Joe, the novice writer of the TWC – see below.

Finally, Nik read out his story ‘Spend it Now, Pay Later’ from the recently published paperback anthology, Beat to a Pulp (see cover). In the foreword, prolific and admired author Bill Crider remarked that this story was ‘a chilling near-future tale that makes the “arm and a leg” interest rate all too real.’ The book contains 27 short stories – crime, horror, sci-fi, romance, western – they’re all in 380pp. ISBN 9780615388243. Available from at $15.95.

About Joe, by John
To writers groups everywhere:

Joe woke up and thought, hey it’s Wednesday. No, stroke that out, you were told last week you can’t start like that.

The weary, bleary, bloodshot eyes, that stared back at him in the bathroom mirror, told of another gin sodden evening with him falling asleep on the couch again, snoring and dribbling, while his wife Susan crept off to her lonely bed!

And there lay the problem.

Joe was part of The Torrevieja Writers’ Circle that meets every Wednesday morning in the Olympic Restaurant, Mil Palmeras, just South of Torrevieja in Spain, see Blog. That sentence is there in case an editor somewhere sees this, spots the raw talent, and wishes to commission a full length feature film or, better still, send money.

Members are encouraged to read out pieces they have written and are rewarded by the critical acclaim and constructive criticism of their colleagues, or sometimes not.

He’d been reading out a series of short stories and he’d noticed some members of the group were looking at him in a slightly odd way. How much was story and how much was him? He was sure that’s what they were asking. Fact and fiction were becoming blurred.

At the coffee break they’d say things like, “Excuse me, I’ve just remembered I have to go to the toilet urgently,” and disappear or, “Excuse me, I see Nik is free and I’ve something really important I must ask him,” and then they wouldn’t go near him, just go and fetch their drink.

He longed to get a chance to set the story straight.

He’d never ever punched his boss on the nose.

He’d never been up for drunk driving or lost his licence or been fired.

He’d never closed Dublin Airport because of a bomb scare, and he’d never been strip searched. Though the image of that tall Garda officer, with the blond hair, blue eyes and that green latex rubber glove came to his mind more regularly than he would have liked.

And he’d never made Susan stand on that roundabout. Open brackets – delete for international e-mails – confusing – they wouldn’t understand the link between ladies of the night and roundabouts – close brackets.

So this week he had decided he would definitely not read out the pedophile story.

No. This week he was going to keep his mouth shut.

He wasn’t going to give them a chance to batter him with his inconsistent points of view, his willy nilly use of tenses, his factual impossibilities or his incorrect use of the comma. They could stick their comma.

Next week he’d tell ’em but this week, no. Mum’s the word, no cliché intended.

He’d keep quiet and, come the coffee break, he’d just have his drink and keep his head down, and they could all go to hell. They wouldn’t get him this week.

That's all for this week, then.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Good tales and good fun.

Douglas had a tale of missed opportunities. Jack had worked all his life and was planning to now retire and spend more time with his wife Sally. He arrived home with a bunch of flowers to tell her and found in her the arms of Jack (his irresponsible friend). Jack says ‘I have won a luxury cruise for two and asked Sal to go with me and she fainted.’ ‘Why ask my wife?’ ‘You are always busy and Sal seemed so lonely, so the least I could do was ask my sister to come with me.’ It was thought to be an intriguing tale that could have been improved with more dialogue.

There was some discussion about the book Eats shoots and leaves. Meanings can be changed by missing out an apostrophe. For example ‘Dicks in tray’ or ‘New members welcome drink.’

John Major read out the first tale about Joe who had just been handed a 3 year driving ban. He woke up realising that the trip to the mountains and the camping holiday were no longer possible, and that he would have to rely on his wife to take the kids to school. He went to work on the DART which was packed and smelly. When he got to his office, his boss Mike called him in and sacked him because of the driving ban. Joe gives Mike a bloody nose, and gives a reversed Churchillian two-fingered gesture to staff looking out of the window as he left. A good story well told. Nik pointed out that it was not advisable to start with the protagonist waking up. The story changes point of view but this can work. Particularly liked was the story within the story of Mike and his secretary and their shenanigans on the table.

Maureen gave us a snippet from her tour leader’s diary when she undertook tours in Hong Kong and China. They were meant as notes to the next tour leader coming after her, telling of the difficulties that had been encountered. She told us about not being able to check bags through from UK to HK. Glyn asked if it was a colostomy bag. Yes he is back.

Anne told of a nurse looking after a man in a coma following a road accident. She recognised him as her maths teacher when she was 15. She had been flattered by his attention and they had an affair which finished when she told him that her ‘monthlies’ finished 3 months previously. He arranged an abortion which led to her being sterile, her dreams of family life finished. She wonders whether she could accidentally disconnect one of the wires that were keeping him alive. Luckily another sister comes in and she goes off duty but what will happen the next time she is on duty? It was Anne’s first attempt at fiction and was thought to be a very good effort. Nik thought she should start by Beth looking at the man and hating him, then going on to say how he came to be there.

John Major gave his second tale about Joe. He is now in Dubai with his wife Susan (all the ladies were astounded that she had stayed with him after having to drive him around for 3 years). He asked his wife how it is that she always knows when he is lying and she says ‘when your lips are moving.’ One day he comes home to find the car is damaged and she says a lamp post was in the wrong place (it’s amazing how they can move). He then offers to go and damage the car again at the same spot and get a police report (which was necessary in Dubai before you could get a car repaired on insurance). There then followed a very funny account of how he tried to hit the same spot but missed it by inches and the people in Spinneys watching and cheering; the staff even came out and directed him. To loud applause he bowed to his audience and the police came and took his details. Joe thought, ‘when I get home my wife will not be having a headache tonight’. Hilarious.

I wrote a little ditty about the Emperor of Exmoor, a famous stag who was shot by a hunter, but apparently it was a hoax so let’s hope he is happily rutting on the moor.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Flash, freedom and frozen genitals

Eighteen members this week. Apologies from Maureen, Glyn, Anne Flynn, Kelle. Stan & Nan, Ian are abroad. Alan and Dorothy send their best wishes. Geoff (from UK) visited again; good to have him back.

Nik read out a note from Maureen: She’s looking for sponsors for the APANEE children’s charity 5km walk by the Lion’s Club on Sunday 31 October. Please call or email her. Any amount per km would be welcome. Or if anyone prefers to walk a donation of 5euros to enter would help too. Just turn up before 4pm on the day.

Nik read out a piece from the Nathan Bransford blog (guest blogger Bryan Russell) which emphasized the need for the writer to uses his senses to convey the created world for the reader. If the reader isn’t given these cues, he or she can’t get immersed in the story.

We began with the reading from Rob. His fiction is improving every week; his rendering of a 500-word piece of suspense was intriguing and is now being polished for a flash fiction competition. Best of luck, Rob.

Heather read her start of (one of) her novels. It’s about Penny leaving the marital home due to an adulterous husband, which posed lots of interesting questions. As ever, the writing was excellent. It was felt that too much was conveyed in too short a space of words; with a novel, you can afford to dwell on scenes and emotions, as long as the story moves forward. We all want to know more about Penny’s bid for freedom.

Anne offered an amusing poem about the twilight years, when retirement seems so busy yet there’s the temptation to do nothing; also, it’s nice to be alone sometimes.

Mary K gave us the reverse of the coin, the narrator’s twilight years to be filled with dance and romance, love and laughter – a yearning to share life and not be alone.

Chris told us in her inimitable way about her husband’s travails within the health service, broken legs and frozen genitals notwithstanding. As she stated, life is bearable even when dire if gems of humour are allowed to shine from time to time.

Geoff introduced us to two male youths who sought the meaning of life in the local library. Quotations of dubious provenance were found, advocating drink and sex for the meaning of life.

John read out the end of his Airport Attack novel. It was a fast-paced, bullet-riddled denouement, which shows great potential for a thriller, though it would benefit from some rewriting. Nik felt that the ending (as is often the case with first novels) was rushed. POV needs to be reviewed also.

Rob mentioned the formation of a Culture Group, meeting each Thursday at 5pm at Los Arcos. All welcome.

A straw poll was taken about the Hot Pen. Eleven wanted it to be scheduled, as now. None present wanted to see the end of it. As it happens, due to the fact that there were so many good suggestions for themes, there are some months when there are no scheduled Hot Pen sessions. If during some sessions there are not enough readings to fill in the time, the option of an instant Hot Pen will be considered.


Saturday, 16 October 2010

Good tales and good fun

Heinke is back so surreal was the name of the day.
She started us off with a tale of two ladies in a narrow tunnel of white porcelain, the house moved and then came to a halt, the reaper had passed by. I think I must have missed something!
Brenda’s diary continued with Minerva being called into the office and offered a place to live and a job at a better rate of pay. Samuel would collect her from the factory later in the day to go to her new home. Minerva had to get back to the pub and get her clothes without Maud knowing or she wouldn’t let her go. She dressed in all her clothes, put a man’s suit on over them and slipped out while a fight was ensuing in the pub. There were some useful comments about clichés, and the wording applicable to the 1920’s.
Jane had written a story called ‘TV or not TV’. Her new landlord had not paid for the TV so she was without her usual channels for a while and had to look at other obscure channels. One was Hamlet in German, and the French version of Countdown where the loser gives a Gallic shrug. The Frogs never were good losers. Lisa thought it could go to Televisual magazine and she would get info for Jane.
Anne’s tale was on one of the themes for today ‘My biggest regret.’ It told of the hard life of her mother down the cotton mill who died of an industrial disease, cotton dust inhalation. Anne’s biggest regret was that she never told her mother that she loved her or helped with the housework. She ensures that her own children and grandchildren get plenty of hugs. The reading out of the story was obviously a cathartic experience for her. It was an interesting piece of social history.
Mary read a little ditty about ‘worrying’, the other theme. She thinks that life without worrying would be a frightful bore.
Ann’s contribution was also about regrets. She also regrets she didn’t spent more with her mum and wasn’t there to say goodbye, but she didn’t regret moving to Spain and that we had to get on with our lives and enjoy the rest of it.
John’s story was called ‘The swing of it.’ He and his sister and their respective children went to France for a holiday and the beach nearby was a nudist one. He was shocked at first, staying safely in his trunks. John seems to have clocked the attractive woman at the outset! After a while he flings his inhibitions to the wind and bares all. Friends of his sister come to join them and they have 2 teenage daughters with them. John is horrified but it is too late to get his trunks on so had to brave it out. He got in the swing of it. Get it?
Another surreal yarn by Geoff about a Vimto bottle. Nik thought Geoff must have been bottling something up.
John Major read the start of his novel about Alan Skinner who was being held captive as guest of Al Qaeda on the Afghan/Pakistan border. He heard a vehicle approaching with Taliban and their prisoners. The prisoners were Afghans who had worked for the Americans. The Imam said ‘we are here to do God’s work’. A swordsman beheaded one of the prisoners; the crowd roared its approval. The other prisoner realised he was going to die anyway and said he worked for the elected government of this country and he himself was a Muslim and the Koran tells Muslims to treat people fairly. The swordsman beheaded him but blood spurted on to the Imam. There was silence from the crowd. Alan was compelled to watch all this. He thought about his brother who had also lost his life in the bombing of the Trade Centre. Very atmospheric. There were some useful comments. Nik thought John should show not tell as the story is through Alan’s eyes and perceptions.
Mary Morris had a short poem about worrying. She feels that if she worries everything will be fine. Now she was worried about what the members of the group will say.
Rita told of a discussion about someone’s bête noir or black beast. Our bête noir can frighten us or cause us harm, but if you speak about it you can learn to quiet the beast; you have to be the handler not the prey.
Gerry’s input was another day in the life of DCI Farrell the irascible police inspector. He goes to Lily’s swish apartment. She had done well for herself. Her husband had been a big criminal who had eventually been killed. She had heard a whisper about something going on. Farrell asked her what payment she wanted for the info and she said she wanted payment in advance and not money and led him towards the door. I say Gerry, is she going to take him to the bedroom? Nik thought there should be more description of Lily and where they were or you might end up with a plodding story.

Hallelujah, the puns are back.


Friday, 8 October 2010

Meeting 6th October. - If you are of a nervous disposition read no further

2 suicides, an attempted rape, 2 separations, a heart attack, spitting, screaming and smelly people. What got into people this week?

John Edwards told us of a meeting of Wordplay on 9 November at Chadwick’s bar Villa Martin at 7.30. Members read 300 words from a short story.

We started off with the leftovers from last week. John Major read a piece from an ongoing story. Ann was sitting in the front room reading when Bill her brother in law came in, he smelt her scent, he followed her, she panicked and tried to get out. ‘I always get what I want.’ He forced her onto the sofa. If she wouldn‘t cooperate, she would have to join Michelle in the woods (a girl he had previously murdered). At that moment his wife and kids came in, ‘She led me on, nothing happened’ Bill said to his wife. ‘Be out of here tomorrow‘ Mary said to Ann, and then collected her thoughts. Ann filled the bathtub, took tablets, got in the water and cut her arms. She was going to a better place but she was taking a baby with her. Mary realised it was her husband who was at fault and told Bill to break the door down but it was too late. Can't wait to read the book.
There were useful comments.

Douglas read the start of a story consisting of 125 words. He could hear his heart beating, he heard a scream and realised the scream was his own. This was for a competition in the Mail on Sunday; entries have to be sent in by 29 Oct. There is a prize of £200.

Gerry wrote on the theme ‘That’s not what I heard ‘(theme from last week). His story was about a fast-track DC from public school and his old fashioned DCI, and the conflict between their two ways of solving crime. Comments were that it was too adverb-rich (nice word Mike).i.e. the DCI was disdainful, testy, irascible.

Jenny’s story was about a young lady who worked difficult hours. She was a concerned mum during the day but when she got to work it was all different. She wore red lipstick and red stilettos. The roulette table was in full swing, she gave a big smile, she hoped some punters would be lucky and she would get some big tips. It is 4 a.m., one man left at the table ‘You have lost £3,000 Joe’ his friend says. He gets up from the table with his head in his hands; he clutches his chest and falls to the floor. Just another night’s work for a croupier. Jenny wrote the piece for a writing competition about people‘s memoirs.

Mike wrote about a carnival that takes place in November in his home town of Bridgewater. The carnival takes 2 hours to pass, there are 100 floats, each one with 15,000 light bulbs and deafening music. It has taken place since 1605 just before Guy Fawkes Night every year.

Maureen’s tale was of a walking trip up a mountain. Agostina, a South American lady, sounds a lovely woman with sensible clothes and a moustache. Unfortunately she wore the same clothes for the whole holiday. Maureen more or less pushed her up the mountain, she farted all the way up and when she got to the top she fell asleep and snored. Charming.

Ann wrote a piece about the virus affecting a group of immigrants from the UK. To keep their culture alive they formed the TWC. All goes well until the time for hot pen. Some people develop a nervous tic, some go to their local hospital rather than attend, Hot pen is placing a heavy burden on people, and it is a matter of grave concern. These were happy smiling people who now suffer from mood swings. It is reasonable to assume this would not have happened without hot pen virus, and now the virus is infecting other breakaway groups. She begs people to bin this invidious and insidious infection. Very funny and apt.

Anne wrote on the theme of ‘Before the colour fades.’ About a change of hair colour which makes a big difference to the way us ladies feel.

Mary (one of the three hale Marys) wrote a poem about ‘All legs and knickers.’ She is learning the tango and her legs are going where they have never been before. She felt quite dizzy, and landed flat on the floor. I hope you didn’t show your knickers Mary.

Jane is editing her story about life in France with her husband. They received an invitation to the French revolution celebration in the village. The tables cleared and the people danced. A man in a beret with grey hair came over and wanted to dance with Jane. She was forced to dance with the man for England. Mr Clement was very drunk and spat in her face. After many dances she was saved by the bell heralding a break for the musicians. Entente cordial and all that. Very descriptive.

Brenda continued her story. Daisy had been murdered and Minerva had to get away. She went to work and as she hadn’t finished her work Mary said she had to stay behind, Sam came out of his office and beckoned her over. What is going on with you and Mary? ‘ She said ‘As from today I haven’t got anywhere to live and am frightened to walk the streets.’ He said his father owned properties in the area and was sure he could find her a place to live. He asked her to become an assistant in the office while he took over his father’s duties in the factory. Is this the start of a better life or another wrong step? The story continues –

Heather also wrote on the theme ‘That’s not what I heard.’ The tale concerned the folly of an aged man seeking to change himself with a new wife, as if everything else would stay the same, and children and friends wouldn’t change towards him. Excellent as always.

John read the second part of a story about a negotiator who had just saved someone from jumping off a bridge. Sue had wanted him to get home by a certain time but now he just wanted to relax and watch the football. He let himself in; his wife was sitting in the corner. 'I thought we agreed you would come straight home'. ‘You know how it is.’ ‘Oh yes I know how it is‘. This sounds serious he thought. This was in the category of 7-10 in his negotiating manual meaning that care was needed to solve the problem, but he could usually talk her round. Sue said ‘I have been unhappy for a long time. I am leaving you and the kids are coming with me.’ He felt paralysed. ‘Me and the kids are at the bottom of your list. Don’t think I don’t know about your affair with the Jones girl. I hope you’re happy.’ The car drove away. He vomited. This cannot happen to me, his game was up, he had lost everything, he would be a laughing stock. He went upstairs, and took two-thirds of a bottle of tablets. His negotiating skills hadn’t worked this time.