Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lottsa Leftovers.

I should have concentrated more and taken better notes. I should have done the blog on Wednesday afternoon instead of leaving it till Sunday morning. Just having read through my notes, I realise I don´t remember much and the notes are definitely cryptic. Still, it´s me doing the blog so this is it - apologies in advance.

Anne Flynn took the Chair as Ian was away.

Leftovers from last week took the floor first.

Lisa, read a story for 3 - 6 year olds. It is her fourth re-write and the powers-that-be had said it needed to be less middle class and 1000 words. At the moment she´s at 1200 words and needed some input to satisfy these PTB. Suggestions were made by the goup.

Jane read out a previously heard Gascony tale which she is polishing prior to publication(?).

Brenda´s Belle was violently raped in the exerpt read out. Very strong piece, well-handled, it was felt.

Graham read out a piece called "Sweethearts", which I think was very clever but since it was based around cricket, it all went over my head.

We then proceeded with the members who´d written for the day.

Maureen wrote a very funny piece on finding love at 60+. Cries of what used to be sexual ecstasy now indicate cramp, the gazing into each others´eyes is most likely to check that your partner isn´t asleep...  Thought to be a good piece for "The Oldie".

Pamela read out more of her account of her life.

Newbie Gerry, had written a piece called "Winter´s Journey" describing a walk. It was intended to help him get over his hatred of the season.

Avril had a poem called "Rainbow Colours".

Chris read 2 poems - "The Waiting Game" and "Hobby".

John McGregor wrote something beginning " Geoffrey said, I think I´ll sleep without my pyjama bottoms"

Heather read a lovely poem written when her daughter´s baby was born.

Douglas ended the session with something called " The Assassins" about reporters.

As with last week, there were leftovers: Nan, Stan, Gerry, and Sara.

Next week is a HOT PEN !!!!!

Chris J

Monday, 21 March 2011

Do You Love Book Shops?

If your answer is 'Yes' (and I hope it is!) then take a look at this marvelous site:

It is a fascinating directory of lots of bookshops throughout Europe selling books in English, many of which are bargain secondhand ones.

I have recently recommended that they add 'Sandpipers Books' in Brighton where I recently found some bargains.

The site was also very useful to me on a recent visit to Paris.


Friday, 18 March 2011

Blog from our gathering on 16th March 2011

Ian is still keeping us on the straight and narrow. Thanks Ian.

It was good to see Nick return for his critical fix.

Ian welcomed two new members;

Pamela - has been writing for many years and keeps hitting that motivation wall we all know and love. She hopes that the group will “prompt her”. I hope so too Pamela

Graeme - hopes that the group will be “inspirational” and I’m sure he’ll be an asset to the group with his historian background.

Sarah started off with the synopsis of her children’s story, kindly read by Christina about magical gnomes.

We were introduced to Mr Hoppypop and the Berts. Suggestions were; there was too much detailed information. The reader needs a flavour of the story, introduction to characters and the ending. Ian will provide a tried and tested handout for Sarah to look at.

Heather read her poem about a ‘writer wannabe’ Sighs of sympathy and recognition were heard. Comments were, repetition worked very well. You are a writer Heather.

Stan read a short piece about how proud he is to be a Lancashire lad. He gave a detailed historical background to the Town of Wigan and the surrounding villages. How the area has been transformed. Slag heaps turned into recreation areas. Fabulous facts about the canal system, historical workshops and mills. An evocative piece. It was agreed that the the emotional attachment came across well and that it could be a tourist board piece.

Douglas wrote on the Theme this week of Schooldays. Douglas reminded us that school is where we learn lessons for life. His particular recollection was not owning up to a misdemeanor initially, but was eventually brought to task. Detail of the school being attached to a Tithe barn raised some discussion within the group.

Alan read the first part of “Threads” a recollection of life in his 5th Form when he was introduced to the classics. He gave us some good quotes from Homer and Pope. Comments were, Alan’s enthusiasm for the classics came across well but It would be good to hear the whole piece. Alan promised to bring it in a few week’s time.

Glyn told us “The tart’s dead” and continued his harrowing tale for competition. The soldier’s plan is revealed, he’s covering his tracks and has a regimented plan although he’s still ranting aloud which is disturbing. ‘The darkest hour is before the dawn’ and it certainly is in this piece. Comments were that the first person narrative enabled detail to be given which made the character so believable.

John MacGregor continued his story about Steve the policeman who’s life is crumbling around him although he seems oblivious to the fact. We are left with a sad picture around the theme of suicide. It was a well written story and the group thought that it was ready for submission. Give us some more John.

Iarla handed out copies of his poem ‘Plant’ so we could follow the wording closely as he read it. All agreed that we needed to know that he was talking to the plant, but that the layout of the poem determined the way it was read and this was helpful for the reader. That the poem raised questions only enhanced its appeal. This is the longest discussion the groups had about a poem. Thank you Iarla.

Ann read us a piece about another biblical epic this time in the form of the ‘weather forecast’. Ann thought freak weather, plague and devastation didn’t lend itself to a ‘letter to mother’ The group were eager for it to be another classic letter so suggested that it could be a daughter writing to mother after she’d heard the weather forecast. Let’s have it then Ann.

Ann told us about her schoolday experience of travelling to and dressing for school. How the girls loved to adapt the uniform to the style of the day Ann transformed the biology prop – the skeleton – by dressing it in her school cardigan,socks and shoes. There’s a whole story about ‘playing the typewriter Ann. An enjoyable piece.

Mary gave us some interesting details about her hobby as geneology expert. She did say it was costly, but what price is heritage. It was suggested that the article should be sent to magazines for a fee of course to offset the expense of researching ancestry.

Mary - ‘That is the question’ this week’s poem. The question was “Does my bum look big in this” The answer left us laughing . How about a follow up. Is that my posers pouch or middle aged spread?

Jenny read a Flash Fiction. A professional thief selected an easy target, or so he thought. The ending was heart piercing. All agreed that it was a very good piece and would be acceptable as a flash fiction submission. Just a couple of tweaks, two ’looks’ close together at the end. Thank you Jenny.

Ian will not be at next week’s meeting. Ann will take the chair.

Ann had made a note of the people who had items to read as we ran out of time and they will begin first at the meeting next week.

Apologies for any errors in the above. It is my first attempt, but no excuses peeps. Let me know of any schoolgirl errors. And I’ll find the schoolgirl and tell her.

Margaret Rowland (My apologies for 23rd March)


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Just going for a test drive with my "L" plates.

Half of our readers had read by the time I realised that I should have been making notes.  Apologies.  Not a good start.  I do hope to emulate Chris though I think I might be struggling. 

Mary's poem about a 'lost Libido' did what poems should do, make us think. So when you find yours Mary will you help me find mine?

Ann exactly conveyed the feelings of time share touts.  I remember I was ill in Portugal when the touts started harassing.

Ann's piece about field exercised decimating the landscape but the compensation was a good outcome.

Douglas told us of his admiration for the no nonsense Judge, Judge Judy, who sorts out the bickering.

Well Folks, I hope I might have pictures at some point, but it may take a while.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Hobbies, Appalling Holidays, Lost Libido.

Ian swung into his second week as chair with relaxed panache, boding well for the future.
Three members were "leftovers" from last time and we began with them.

Margaret Rowland read two pieces.
Her first, a short story about the members of an Indian family, told of the visit of Aunty Nellie who looked as if " she had been let loose in the make-up box" and who, to the great consternation of everyone was wearing white knickers under black tights with no covering dress. Deemed a good mood piece it nevertheless had point of view problems and several members admitted to finding this a difficult area. Her second piece "Morning Duty" described a little boy arriving at school clutching the possessions of a recently deceased parent. Very moving.

Nan read the first pages of her novel set in a mining community in the 1930s. The description of the pit accident was very atmospheric but it was felt could be dramatically improved by altering the order of the events.

Stan´s piece was a lovely description of his role as grandad when his family holidays in Spain.

Iarle, the new man, read his poem about the burial of a dog using word play on tail/tale. Ian thought it "Beckett-ish"

Alan Winter described an unusual hobby he has - collecting golf markers and had brought in one for us to see. ( another unusual hobby is pictured above )

Glyn, having scrutinised the rules of the competition he has entered (which state that no offensive language be used (!!!!!) ), had "sanitised " an exerpt of his novel to see what we thought.

John McCormack read a piece he was about to send off to his tutor at the Open University, called "A Policeman´s Lot". Having both sung the Gilbert and Sullivan and read the piece we gave him an A+.

Heather was sitting next to John and I have her name in my notes but absolutely nothing else. Apologies, Heather.

Anne Flynn, in her inimitable style, read exerpts from a "Dementia Diary". Very funny indeed.

Mary K, standing at the front, shouted her poem starting " I lost my libido this morning" and pondered whether what she had seen the cat chewing could have been it..............

Jane read a piece from her Gascony Tales called "Military Exercises".

Douglas described his TV heroine Judge Judy.

Finally, today´s theme, An Appalling Holiday":( those on holiday in Florida, take note of the sign at the top!)

Anne Grierson described a harrowing experience in Spain dodging timeshare touts
Jenny wrote a poem, which is here on the blog.

Another entertaining and instructive meeting. 

Jenny´s Poem

Worked overtime each day
Saving all the pay
For a week in the sun
with my mates to have some fun.

So me, John and Patrick
Arrived on time at Gatwick.
We’d asked for  somewhere warm
So we booked for Benidorm
But much to our dismay
There was a 3 hour delay
So we had to hit the bars
And down a right few jars.

On the plane we were sick as dogs
And had to share the only 2 bogs
And when we arrived in Spain
There was torrential rain.
We were told,”It wont last long”
But sadly they were wrong
We weren’t expecting this
Someones taking the piss.

We were taken to our hotel
It had a horrid, fusty smell.
The room was small and pokey
And there was no Kareoke.
It was cold and we felt rough
Should have gone to Magaluf.
The mozzies were rife and  stinging
And the food was really minging.

The rain lasted  throughout the trip
So all we did was drink and kip
And take turns on the loo
There was nothing else to do.

Complained to Thomas Cooke
But they didn’t give a fuck.

Flogging The Quill

As promised at last week's meeting - here are the details of a good site from a guy who loves writing (and is also a professional editor) and has lots of helpful information on his blog. In addition, he invites people to submit the first page of something they are working on and he gives great feedback! Well worth a try for those of you into your novels.

My Photo

Meantime - am sure smiley Mr Rhamey, the man behind the quill - won't mind me putting this very helpful information on our blog; it is taken from his book 'Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel That Sells'.

Storytelling Checklist
Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.
Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.

•Story questions
•Scene setting

Enjoy! Lisa

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Well I got in now can I blog?  Looking forward to tomorrow's gathering for some more entertainment.. 

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Snake Charmers, Chamberlain, and RIBS.

 The first week with Ian as Chair - and a very good job he made of it. Well done, that man!

A new member, Avril was welcomed and altogether we were around twenty members present. Not bad, considering there were no biccies on offer!

A short discussion on whether or not we should invest in a microphone resulted in a fairly resounding "No", as it was deemed too expensive and not really neccessary. Mary K was ordered to shout more and stand at the front.

Margaret, Lisa and Anne Grierson offered to take a hand at the blog but since most people were hesitant as to how to go about it, Ian said he´d knock up a foolproof guide as to how to access the blog and write a post.

Alan Gillespie wrote about a schoolboy who plays truant and has an accident.
                                                                                                               Brenda, who has an aversion to the sea , had been asked to bring her writing skills into play and do a short article on a boat trip  with a sailing club which was marking the launch of its new RIB ( Rigid Inflatable Boat). Her piece was very well-done and she is to be congratulated as articles aren´t her normal comfort zone.             

Jane is polishing up her Gascony Tales with a serious view to publication and regaled us with the story of the stocky red-faced farmer neighbour who was obsessed with her body. (!!!)

Newbie Avril read us a poem about a visit to her son in Australia. Good start Avril!

Mary K wrote a clever poem entitled "Partners in Rhyme" about two rival poets wrting a poem together, one line each, and having to make the lines rhyme. 

Anne Braithwaite gave us a diary extract describing a week of disaster for the family cars.

Chris J read the final rewrite of a piece of bloodthirsty flashfiction.

Heather´s poem was about stopping smoking, although it wasn´t revealed until the very end what it was that was being given up. Clever.

Douglas had written an anecdotal piece about 3/9/1939, when Neville Chamberlain announced, rather prematurely, that there would be "Peace in our time".

Alan Winter´s anecdote was the sad tale of a dozing snake charmer, an escaped King Cobra, and the resulting death of the Belgian Consul-General´s wife.

Gerry had rewritten last week´s piece taken from his story about the Battle of Gettysburg. It was deemed better in some ways but the general feeling was that Gerry needs to flesh out his backstory so that Josh, the main character, becomes more believable. Not to be downcast, Gerry promised to take the advice to heart and do some more rewriting. Good for him!!

Unfortunately there wasn´t quite enough time so Nan, Stan and Margaret will start next time.

If you´re reading this Nik, hope things are going well with the editing and that you´re enjoying your Kindle.
Everyone present today said how much they´d enjoyed last week and they all wished you well.

Hasta la Próxima Vez !

Chris J