Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Meeting of 30th September

Torrevieja Writers Circle meeting of 30th September.

On this cooler morning eighteen writers assembled for the monthly 'Hot Pen' which is always well attended and the challenge is accepted as a matter of course.

We have a newcomer and Vida Nelson introduced herself and we welcomed her.

Maureen asked for our views on her 'blurb' for the back cover of her book and there were constructive comments made during a full discussion.  She will bring it again next week for our further views.
John Mac  gave us his version of the progress of radio and the effect upon him in Radio Goo Goo. which was inspired by a previous theme.
Heather broached the subject of dementia and the fact that they like to read 'out-a-loud' and asked for poems that were suitable for them to be read.

The poet Elizabeth Bishop's poem The Weed provided the random selected word of CAUTIOUS.

All eighteen attendees read and it was remarked upon that apart from two all the subjects or themes chosen to write upon were different.  This variety of ideas was dissimilar to most previous 'hot pens'.   Some reflected past experiences and some came from the imagination.  The initial thoughts upon this word were not encouraging it was later said, but we all produced something.  There were thoughtful and profound ones that rubbed shoulders with good old rhyming lines, re-produced stories and some hilarity.  I hope some of these words produced today will spark and idea or two in future days.

I reminded them of the theme for nest week which is TERRIBLE BEAUTY and there was a short discussion on what could be written on it.

Again we had a new face joining our group and Vida is one of several new writers that have come to us in the past months.

John Edwards

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


I am on week three of a course with Future Learn examining the work of William Wordsworth in People, Poetry and Places. This exercise is something to look at and do.  What do you think?

This creative task is about engaging with, and sharing, your responses to a particular site that has meaning for you.

Choose a place, preferably somewhere outdoors, that you will go to for this exercise. It should be somewhere that has a particular value for you personally.

Take a notepad + pen and/or a sketchpad+ pencil and/or a camera with you.

Before you set off, think of three words that sum up that place for you and write these down.

When you arrive in the place sit down with your eyes shut for two minutes. Then open your eyes and write down all the sounds you heard or the thoughts you had during that time.

Now look around you for two minutes but without moving position. Write down everything you can see. Pay attention to the immediate, microcosmic world around you. If you prefer to sketch or paint rather than write then do this as well as, or instead of, writing.

If you brought a camera with you, take 4 photographs of whatever interested you or might relate to what you are thinking or take a short video of this. [If you want to make a visual work then feel free to take more visual images as necessary for you and in a range of media]

Return home. When you get home produce a creative work of whatever kind you like from your site visit that communicates the essence of that place and its value to you. You might choose to write just a list of words, or a poem, or a prose account of that place. If you prefer to use the visual materials then make a short video or combine word and image in some way. Be creative!

John Edwards

Sunday, 20 September 2015


AN INVITATION The members of Stanza Mar Menor (I know it's a grand title), which is a stanza group of the Poetry Society in London will meet up again on Thursday 24th September at 2pm in San Miguel de Salinas.  It is the first time that we have met up in months although there are always emails.  We support each other, make suggestions and encourage.  We also respect that the writer has the ultimate choice - to amend or not.  Personally, I have had so much advice which I have valued.  There is nothing pretentious about our small group and we will always welcome new faces. No one has anything to lose by coming along.  After all writers write don't they?  
If you wish to be there either speak to me on Wednesday or email me.  JE

Thursday, 17 September 2015

English Language 500 years ago

At yesterday's Torrevieja Writer's meeting - covered elsewhere on the blog by John - we discussed how language changes with use and has done throughout the ages as new words, pronunciations, accents and indeed languages themselves changed and influenced our way of speaking. As immigrants swelled the native population in greater or lesser numbers, their influences and customs gradually changed us as they assimilated, learned English and contributed to our rich literary heritage.  

On Tuesday the i100 (from The Independent) ran a piece on the subject and included a video of a political satire written 500 years ago, read by a Dutch University Professor, pronouncing each word as close to Middle English as possible.Check it out at 
Fascinating Stuff! LD.

Difficult and Easy

This week's meeting had a slightly different twist. Ian asked each of those present to write down what they found difficult writing and also what they found easy. The reasons for this were twofold i.e. assistance could be given either by advice/guidance from the membership on the "difficult" subjects and those that found items easier to write about would be asked to provide such assistance. It would also give him an ideas  as subjects in the next programme. Each member provided an insight into their work with many of them finding things in common with others.

A number of members found poetry (rhyming or non- rhyming) difficult to write and discussion took place on the question of scanning,rhythm etc. It was also suggested that, to help, an idea would be to take one of their short stories and convert it into a poem and vice versa

A few of the members found it easier to write items prose and poetry of a lighthearted nature usually with a twist in the tale. Dialogue was another favoured item as this, members found, could progress their work at a pace.

Some general items emerged during the various discussions such as,"What person it was better to write in? What genre you should write about or should you write about what you know?

What did arise was the number of members who had no aspirations to write a novel, that many were reluctant to do detailed research  and that some had a dislike for working under pressure e.g. "hot pen" whereas others welcomed that particular discipline.

Some of the newer members indicated that they had been reluctant to join the group as they felt that either they had no talent or that the group would be dismissive of their attempts. It was quickly pointed out to them that they were not alone with these feelings, that each of us had had such reservations and that we were all here to learn, improve and encourage each other.

The general feeling can be summed up by saying,

"If you want to be a writer, you have to write!"

Ian C

September Writing Thought

If you ask a writer how to become a writer, they will often give you the same piece of advice:

Just Write.

Ian C

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Pura Vida!

I buckled up my seat belt for landing.  Flying low over Costa Rica’s highlands, I looked down on green jungle dotted with single storey wooden dwellings with corrugated iron roofs. A twenty minute taxi ride took me from San Jose airport to my friend Ros’s coffee farm, where I stepped out into the glorious scent of jasmine and looked over to the horizon where volcanoes rose up, silhouetted against a grey sky. Ros greeted me warmly, despite having arrived home only 6 hours earlier on a flight from Europe. We’ve known each other since 1966, when we were lodged together as room mates in our first year at university. After a long shower and a glass of refreshing home-made lemonade, my Costa Rican adventure began.
coffee bushcoffee farm

coffee farm walk

To stretch my legs after the long haul flight I strolled lazily around the plantation, between coffee bushes, bougeanvillea and hibiscus, as thunder rumbled, but no rain came. I was collecting cass fruit or guava, to use in drinks later on. I felt sticky, but relaxed, as I wandered past the coffee farm workers’ dwellings, all adorned with pots of colourful flowers.

farm worker's home

Ros prepared a salad lunch using fresh, organic vegetables from her garden. After catching up on each other’s news, we dined on fish cooked in a teriyaki and passion fruit sauce, and retired at 8.30pm. It was so quiet that sleep washed over me within seconds.
Next day was the Dia de los Abuelos (grandparents day) at the international school which Ros’s grandson attended. It was a very chic affair, with rich Costa Rican ladies showing off their best attire and most expensive jewellery, sizing each other up whilst ostensibly watching each year group perform a suitably enchanting song. Afterwards we lunched at The Costa Rica Country Club where I sampled a local version of the Mexican drink Michelada, served with salt around the rim of the pint beer glass instead of the original chilli.
I visited the Guadalupe organic market for a breakfast of arepas cheese patties with huevos rancheros spicy eggs and bought smoked trout, giant avocados, and goldenberries. The latter apparently work like Viagra, but I didn’t have the opportunity to find out how effective they are. The market was busy with locals, known as ‘ticos’ or ‘ticas’ depending on their gender, crying out the quality of their produce, or shoving samples of it under your nose to tempt you to buy. ‘Pura Vida’ is the greeting here: ‘pure life!’, and my internet search revealed that the ‘ticos’ have been designated the world’s happiest people. Certainly, everyone I spoke to wore a smile.


After a few days Ros drove me to the family beach house, a beautiful condo at Playa Escondida on the Pacific Ocean shore north of the farm. And ‘escondida’ it was, hidden away among lush trees and down a long winding road to the ocean. We stopped on the way to buy pineapples and mangoes as scarlet macaws, pelicans, vultures and yellow-breasted fly catchers swooped and dived above us. The house is set among cashew and flame trees, the garden is filled with scented shrubs, and the view from each of the six bedrooms is calming and restful. I watched waves rolling onto the sand and palm trees bent low. The shore crackled as its pebbles were dragged back into the ocean when each wave receded. I attempted to swim and had difficulty getting out of the water as the undertow was so strong, and I still have a few scratches to prove it. The insects here are big, and the lizards very big!

big lizard!beach house

beach house bedroom viewplaya escondida: hidden beach

jacaranda playa escondida

We visited the beach housemaid’s new home, walking along the bank of what in the rainy season is a river but was now the dried up bed. Ros was curious to find out where her employee now lived; she treats all her workers like members of her family. Angelica used to live in a cardboard house until the previous month; now she has been adopted by an uncle who lives in a tin hut with children and chickens galore. Moving up in the world is on a different level here. On the way back to the beach house I tried out a coconut granizado. It was made with condensed milk poured over crushed ice and when I stood up I felt drunkenly dizzy from the sugar rush. An hour later I was suffering from what I can only describe as a hangover; I have never consumed so much sugar in my life.


We had a few days at Escondida, and all too soon it was time to leave the peace behind and set off to drive back to San Jose. We stopped at a roadside café for a breakfast of gallo y pinto, a typical Central and South American dish of rice and beans, with spicy eggs, fried plantain and corn tortillas.

rainforest la cusingarainforest walk

La Cusinga Lodge is a rainforest resort run by Jack Ewing, author of Monkeys are Made of Chocolate and Where Tapirs and Jaguars Once Roamed. He had the brainwave of establishing wildlife corridors so that endangered species can move freely when local food supplies become exhausted due to mankind’s plundering of the rainforest. I had the honour of meeting this charming, self-effacing man, who has done so much to bring the plight of forest creatures to the world’s attention, when Ros and I called in to visit and walk in the forest on our way to her home.

view from la cusinga lodge

By the time we left for San Jose the weather had broken and finally, the rain came. Torrents of it, so that we couldn’t see anything through the windscreen. This was made worse by the lack of working windscreen wipers on Ros’s Hilux 280 truck. Driving along a winding coast road in zero visibility was scary, but Ros wanted to press on, and I bowed to her local knowledge: apparently spending the night en route in a hotel with dubious standards of morality and cleanliness could have been even more dangerous!

Poas volcano crater lake

Rising at 05.30 next morning I was astounded to see red and yellow butterflies fluttering around me. It was steaming hot, the air was filled with luscious juicy jungle scents. The sun was shining, and Poas volcano beckoned; I wanted to see the turquoise-blue crater lake, only visible occasionally when the skies are clear. We hiked up gently in the sweet mountain air and were lucky to glimpse the lake below us before the clouds regrouped to cover the sky with grey again.

costa rican bus stop

That night, my last, we enjoyed strawberry and mint granizados and fresh lemonade with basil before our dinner in a local restaurant of camaron (huge prawns) with garlic whilst watching a fantastic flamenco dancer swirl and twirl and stamp her feet.
Pura vida, ticos!

restaurant view

SWFObject - step 1

Get Paid to See the World

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

TWC on Wednesday 9th September

TWC meeting of Wednesday 9th September

It has been said that the blog is important to the group and for the group because it is a means of communication for all members, but more importantly for those who cannot attend regularly.  It is always good to know what is going on.  Additionally it is our window into which the outside world can look through and see what our group can write.  It is as simple as that.  Last week Ian was absent and so was I.  We both agreed that it would have been beneficial if someone had undertaken to write a blog report.  It is viewed by many and there were eleven entries posted last month with almost three thousand page views.  It is being looked at.

The last entry was for Bare Fiction Competitions with a closing date of 31st October.  If you check out the judges credentials you could be impressed.  As a group we could look more seriously at writing for competitions with a view to submitting entries.  I realize that not all members will want to participate and it might be a good idea for those willing to do so liaise with one another.  Maybe an agenda point for next week.

Ian announced that thirteen submissions on 'Why Write' had been forwarded to Costa Blanca Peoples Newspaper where they will be judged by the editor and the winning entry published.

Now to today.  We welcomed two newcomers, Suzanne and Lynn,  to add to several new faces that have appeared recently.  They were, of course, welcomed and it is good for the group that fresh voices are heard.

The theme was The Dinner Party.  The majority of those present had written on this subject and as always both rhyming couplets and humour were both in abundance.  Interesting stories carried the writings along and it was very apparent that sexual activity was, at times, foremost in the writers' minds.  Ian wrote about a son who never knew, until today, who his real father was and Suzanne's Olga, the maid and willing partner, was seduced by a sexually active husband.  Both of these stories evolved carefully and were very good to hear and they were well received.  Robin delighted us with an amusing story and acted it out beautifully. She talks with her hands too!

The writings were varied and included a disaster at cooking time, death at an inconvenient moment, a hungry family going out to kill and a re-cycling of one or two past events.

The penultimate story was from  Lisa and this arose as a result of a 'hot pen' from last week when a teenager 'ditched ballet for burlesque'.  There is of course much more to the story than that and the reading of it produced quite deep discussions involving ' the perception of self'.  There was much in this piece that was appreciated for its depth and for the writing.

Maureen introduced another travel article.  This time it was of a trip to Costa Rica and she dealt with the subjects of food, dance, wildlife and the environment.  The words did move well on the line.

More importantly there are many writing and even more importantly the feedback is being given with serious thought and in the correct manner. Writing is a challenge and in this group members should challenge the writing and the writer.  That is how we can all improve.  No one has got to the stage of decrying or denigrating anyone of the efforts read out.  There was some great stories this morning, skillfully read, listened to and commented upon for the writer to consider and work more on their pieces.
John Edwards

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Bare Fiction Competitions

Just passing this information on to members. JE

Bare Fiction Prize 2015 for Poetry, Flash Fiction & Short Story

Details: 2nd annual Bare Fiction Prize is accepting entries of poetry (max 40 lines), flash fiction (max 500 words) & short story (max 3000 words). Prizes in each category of: 1st Prize £500, 2nd Prize £200, 3rd Prize £100, 2 x Highly Commended Awards of £25 each.
1st, 2nd & 3rd prize winners will be published in the Spring 2016 issue of Bare Fiction Magazine and on our website, with the prizes to be awarded at the Spring launch reading in March/April 2016 (date and location/venue to be confirmed). Entries accepted from anyone in the UK, or internationally, online or by post until October 31st 2015.

Judges: Poetry - Jo Bell, Flash Fiction - Richard Skinner, Short Story - Paul McVeigh.

Entry Fee:  (£2 discount per entry for subscribers) £5 per poem, £6 per flash fiction, £8 per short story. You can subscribe during the submission process if you wish and receive the discount.

Contact: For more information, rules, submission details, to enter online or download a postal entry form, please see