Judy Waite Creative Curiosity

Judy Waite, award-winning writer of over fifty Children’s and Young Adult fiction titles, began her talk to the Hampshire Writers’ Society with a tribute to Barbara Large, who was our friend, founder, inspiration and a great ally within the publishing world.

It was at the Winchester Writers’ Conference that Judy, a novice, found not only access to specialist workshops, but also the confidence to take Barbara’s advice: “Keep writing.”

It was a crazy time, Judy says, as she was working as well as writing. Time, she agrees, is one of the writer’s great enemies. Once published, she enrolled on an MA in Creative Writing. A bit back to front; but she still felt unsure when talking about how to write.

Judy was not just here to talk to the Society though. She treated us, the gathered members and guests, to an interactive exercise, introducing an envelope, sheet of spare paper, pencil and candle for each of us.

“If you’re trying to get a child to write a story,” she told us, “don’t get them to tell you it first – they’ll think, job done!”

Encompassing a wide age range, Judy has written for four-year olds, “Mouse Look Out”, and fourteen-year olds, “Game Girls”. She writes trade fiction, research and rigour books which are usually aimed at older boys. Educational books, like “Jamboree Storytime Level B: I wish I Had a Monster”, are mostly for schools and are commissioned, but still publishers of these are always pleased to hear from authentic authors.

Judy also writes High Low books, like “The Street”, a collection of short books aimed at older children who have difficulty reading – perhaps English is not their first language or they are dogged by dyslexia.

‘Where do you get your ideas from?” is the most common question that Judy is asked. Ideas are all around us, she says, suggesting that we use the pen in front of us – imagine that pen full of optimism, wonder and energy to write ethical, positive works, in the wrong hands. Or the pencil on the desk – what is its one true desire; could it be, to be a crayon?

“So that’s how your mind works,” a student commented. That started Judy thinking that of course, all writers may indulge in creativity, but not in the same way. We write from the heart, she enthuses, not the head. It is neither easy nor natural to write with your head saying, I write like this, because this is what the publishers of my chosen genre require.

Judy’s teaching was a resounding success, but at the time, she felt as though she was “standing on the top of a hill on a windy day, throwing her ideas into the air”. This was when Wordtamer was born. Judy was commissioned to put all her ideas into a book.

Her teaching takes the form of: de familiarisation, character connection, free-writing (the Freudian method of helping shell-shocked soldiers to cope with what is going on in their heads), the silent zone and visualisation. These all were incorporated into the continuing interactive exercise.

The most interesting of Judy’s methods is Active Research – she once had a character who spent some time in prison “…so I decided I’d better get arrested.” she said. This, after having auditioned for a position in a boy band and visiting Cardboard City, London. Judy is not our only author who indulges in active research – remember Karen Hamilton’s Characters on the Couch, Penny Ingham’s archaeology?

“When I’m asked to write a story, my mind goes blank,” one of her reluctant writers said. Five weeks later, that same child wanted to be a writer, because thanks to Judy Waite, he was no longer “blank in the mind.”

Report by Lisa Nightingale

HWS Are Looking for Two New Committee Posts

Publicity Manager

The new member of the Organizing Committee will have the job title ‘Publicity Manager’. He or she will be required to perform the following duties.

1) To publicize the events organized by the Hampshire Writers’ Society.

2) To use, for publicity purposes, an already existing list of contacts, and to seek to add to this list of contacts.

3) To attend the Society’s monthly Tuesday-evening events, and to assist in the smooth running of these events.

4) To attend the Society’s monthly Thursday-afternoon meetings of its Organizing Committee (normally at 4.00 p.m., on the third Thursday in the month, at West Downs, University of Winchester, Romsey Road, Winchester SO22 5HT).

Hampshire Writers’ Society will undertake to provide the Publicity Manager with a designated e-mail address (if required); it will not be possible to provide desk space or a computer. The Society runs on a goodwill basis, which means that all the positions on its Organizing Committee are unpaid.

From its foundation in 2011 the Hampshire Writers’ Society has grown steadily, in terms of both its membership and its range of operations. Recently, a vacancy has arisen with regard to the position of Publicity Manager on the Society’s Organizing Committee. The Society is now looking to fill this vacancy and invites expressions of interest, ahead of the Organizing Committee’s next scheduled meeting on 12 January 2017.

Website Manager

The new member of the Organizing Committee will have the job title ‘Website Manager’. He or she will be required to perform the following duties.

1) To manage the Hampshire Writers’ Society website, see hampshirewriterssociety.co.uk.

2) To receive postings for the website from other members of the Society’s Organizing Committee and to include these materials in the website’s general management, without any other person adding postings to the website.

3) As an option, to attend the Society’s monthly Tuesday-evening events and to assist in the smooth running of these events; attendance is optional rather than a requirement.

4) As an option, to attend the Society’s monthly Thursday-afternoon meetings of its Organizing Committee; attendance is optional rather than a requirement.

Hampshire Writers’ Society will undertake to provide the Marketing Manager with a designated e-mail address (if required); it will not be possible to provide desk space or a computer. The Society runs on a goodwill basis, which means that all the positions on its Organizing Committee are unpaid.

From its foundation in 2011 the Hampshire Writers’ Society has grown steadily, in terms of both its membership and its range of operations. Recently, the Society’s Organizing Committee has decided to add a Website Manager to its membership. The Society is now looking to fill this vacancy and invites expressions of interest, ahead of the Organizing Committee’s next scheduled meeting on 12 January 2017.

 

Techniques in Comics and Graphic Novel Writing with Pat Mills

Report by Lisa Nightingale

Comics writing has its own rules and these are different to those of graphic novels, Pat Mills tells us. A graphic novel is more of a creative expression.

Pat admits getting himself into trouble over his firm beliefs that the reason for comics’ demise, especially in the girls’ aged 7 & 8 year olds market, is down to the lack of love and care from their eager-to-move-on young women creators. Snobbery settled into publishing turning it elite. The title of Editor of girls’ comics such as Jinty was seen as a blot on the writer’s CV, nobody wanted these roles and the comics folded. Added to which; sophistication took over, comic cons were held, readers defected to America and the 7/8 year olds’ market was lost. A trend of merging comics raised sales. But this was temporary; the readers had been cheated.

The storytelling formula of Robert McKee was then adopted by mainstream comics publishing. 2000AD took this formula and whittled it down to its bare bones.

  • Key to girls’ story lines is that the heroine must be proactive – a modern day MistyPatMillsCinderella. All sorts of terrible things may happen to her, some of which horrify parents but the market has proven their love for these storylines. In hundreds of years, tastes have not changed. Heroines have become harsh. Or is this how writers are showing their many layers?
  • A cruel or upstaging parent is a taboo! The heroine can be given a wicked uncle, teacher, step parent, but their own mother and father must always be good people.
  • Friendship is the all important element for girls’ storylines.mistyannual1979

Pat learned these lessons the hard way. In the 7/8 year olds market, both girls and boys are bitterly outspoken and Pat has received hate mail for the wrong storyline. A Comic’s storyline deadline may be only weeks ahead of the reader giving the editor the freedom to shout for a failing storyline to be ‘killed.’ Beware though; churning out what works can bring a writer down. Keep the readership at the forefront – the storyline must be wrapped-up properly.

Avoiding the tyranny of the mainstream publishing world; Pat and his wife, Lisa, set up their own publishing imprint. Their list of publishing professionals possess one main difference – they are friendly, helpful and on-line.

It is entirely possible for a mainstream comic to feature an anti-establishment storyline. If mainstream, e.g. Marvel, is your style then traditional routes of submission can work. The trick is to keep the Sci-Fi storyline from becoming simply escapism.

Pat’s advice to writers wanting to break into the comics’ market is to use the indie publishers – assuming of course that you are not up against the economic clock! Study your market. Use the free web comics.

Evidence of a girls’ comics market is provided by the success of Manga. ‘Finding an artist is a whole talk of its own,’ Pat points out.

reademandweepPat Mills’s latest project, Read Em and Weep is in the form of a book consisting of formal prose about Dave Maudlin a ‘Young Foggie’ suspended in the time of Gam Rock’s era of mainstream comics writing. It is not a biography, he tells us. It does, however, feature many of the ironies which have plagued Pat throughout his career.

 

Della Galton – New Novella Series The Reading Group

reading-group-bookends-2The Reading Group focuses on five women who meet monthly to drink wine, have nibbles, gossip and – oh yes – discuss the classics.

In December they are reading A Christmas Carol and Grace’s life seems to be taking a curious parallel to Dickens’ classic story! Spooky!

In January they are reading Jane Austen’s Emma – and this time it’s Anne Marie who’s the focus of the story. Like Emma, Anne Marie fancies giving Cupid a run for his money. But matchmaking isn’t really her forte!

In February they are reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Oh and Kate has a handsome builder in renovating her kitchen. Hold on to your hats, ladies.

In March, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is the book of the month. Jojo has a new man in her life. She is starting to worry that there may be certain parallels between her life and Daphne du Maurier’s heroine. Age gap romance and ancestral homes spring to mind.

December, which is a short story, is free for your kindle. You can download it HERE.

If you’d rather read the December story on paper it’s also in the January edition of the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, which is out now.dellagaltonsmall

Each novella in the Reading Group series is 99p. Less than the price of a mince pie and guaranteed not to make you fat. I wish I hadn’t written mince pie. Now I’m going to have to eat one.

I asked Della a couple of questions regarding the writing of a series:

Q: Did you know the characters’ endings when you started?

A: No, although I did know some elements of the plot because of the nature of the project.

Q: And how were you able to plan for that across a set of six books eg if a character’s story ends in book six were you able to sow the seeds of that ending way back in book one?

A: I’m not er hem – a planner. I don’t plan. I just head off in a direction. In this series it was no different. I sowed some seeds and then I had to resolve them. This got harder as the series progressed.

Interestingly though, I find that the limitations set by working like this are helpful to me. Because very often I have to come up with creative endings that I would never have been able to plot out in advance. My brain just doesn’t work like this. There does have to be a story arc but I also rely heavily on themes. One of the main themes in this series is Friendship. Family is there also, and so is Love.

How Ten Words Won Author Ally Sherrick a Book Contract

allysherrickTake a place at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference, an entry in the Ten Word Novel Pitching competition and a well-known children’s publisher as the judge. Mix them all together and what have you got? A small but important chance for your story – the one you have slaved at for months in your writer’s garret and in which you believe so passionately – to reach the audience of bright-eyed and enthusiastic young readers you’ve written it for.

black-powder-aw-2-195x3001When I entered my ten word summary of Black Powder in the competition, I had no inkling at all that I might actually win. I had already collected a number of rejections from agents who had told me that unfortunately my story ‘wasn’t for them.’ In fact I was very close to consigning it to the ‘Bottom Drawer of Not-Likely-To-Be-Published Doom’. So I was over the moon when I discovered that Barry Cunningham, Publisher and Managing Director of Chicken House Publishing Ltd, had picked it from the pile of entries.

The prize was a review by Barry of 2,000 words of my story – an historical middle grade adventure about a boy who gets mixed up in the Gunpowder Plot. I was delighted that I was going to receive comments and perhaps some advice back from him; but I was thrilled when he contacted me after reading it and said he’d like to read the whole thing.

chickenhouselogoAfter some last minute further polishing, I sent my manuscript off to Barry in late November 2014 and spent a nail-biting few weeks waiting to hear. Imagine my delight when he contacted me to say he had really enjoyed reading it and that he’d like to take it to the next Chicken House acquisitions meeting. He warned me that they may yet decide not to take it on, but that, at any event, they would like me to come down to meet them at the Chicken House coop in Frome, Somerset. A date was duly fixed for a meeting in early March – although I was still none the wiser as to where things might be going!

But all that changed when, after an initial chat round a ginormous old table in a room which looked suspiciously like Dumbledore’s study, Barry told me they’d like to publish my story. If I’d been over the moon before, I was now heading on warp drive into another galaxy entirely – especially when the offer came through from Barry the next day for a two book deal!

18 months later and though my book is now published and sitting proudly on the bookshelves of bookshops up and down the land, I still haven’t quite beamed back down to earth.

But, two things from my travels through space I do know to be true:

  1. We writers must always keep the faith. If you love your story, never give up on it, no matter what.

And …

  1. Seize every opportunity that comes your way. Entering that SCBWI competition nearly two years ago gave me the chance to realize my dream of becoming a published author and of sharing my stories with a whole world of readers.

And the lucky ten words? ‘Boy must join Gunpowder Plot to save father from hanging.’

Black Powder is available from Waterstones, Foyle’s, WH Smith and all good bookshops, and online from Amazon.

For more information about Ally visit her website: www.allysherrick.com or follow her on Twitter: @ally_sherrick

Poets and their Poetry – Hugh Greasley

Report by Lisa Nightingale

 

Hugh Greasley is a visual artist – a painter – as well as a poet.hughgreasley

He often collaborates with other artists, enjoying the intersection between poetry and arts. In 2015, he worked with a performance artist to develop a poetry/performance piece about a moonlight walk along the Itchen River, from Winchester to the sea over the course of a night. Hugh has recently collaborated with a ceramicist, hand writing poetry around pots and bottles, mixing writing with three dimensional form.

His poems are inspired by places such as St Ives and nature. He often begins with quite an ordinary subject and allows the poem to twist itself into something more interesting.stives

Hugh’s research tip is to use Etymology which is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed. Etymology can often lead you to interesting related concepts. He agrees with the advice to read widely the works of other poets.

Poets and their Poetry – Maura Dooley

Report by Lisa Nightingale

mauradooleyMaura’s poetry is inspired by her feelings for places, or people or situations. For example her wonderful poem inspired by her becoming star struck at meeting her idol, Leonard Cohen in a lift. In her travels she will often take a wander around the new place, looking in estate windows and imagining living in those houses, putting herself in the shoes of those that live there and she read us her poems about the Ace Sisters of Mumbles in Wales and Streatham Hill.

Her work sounds as though it has been well researched and she says that research is not the inspiration, but often she will be looking into something which interests her and a poem begins to form from it. On The Moor with Keeper was inspired by the Yorkshire Moors and Keeper was the name of Emily Bronte’s dog. And another on her arrival in London during the Thatcher years.oldauthenticinstruments

Maura also reads widely the work of other poets and writers. Another of her poems, Bellowhead was inspired by the bands ability to take ancient ballads and make them contemporary using old and authentic instruments and here she read us her own reworking of an old ballad.

Maura was honoured to spend time as Chawton Houses Poet in Residence. She used the comings and goings of those visiting to imagine what it was like in Jane Austen’s time. And looking at the grave Jane and her mother turned the stereotypical graveside feelings on their head to produce a positive poem which reduced the grave to what it is – a square of earth; Jane and Cassandra’s spirits are in the house.austengrave

Ideas often ramble around for a long time in Maura’s head until she finds a way to write it down. Her first poem was about a ghost. She called the ghost a ‘blip’ of light. Her teacher returned the work with ‘blip’ crossed through in red and the word ‘blot’ written in instead. Maura knew then that she wanted to be a poet.

Poets and their Poetry; Maggie Sawkins

Report by Lisa Nightingale

maggiesawkins

Maggie’s writing took off after attending a workshop on the theme of sound with the Poet John Burnside in Portsmouth. Originally she was at a loss. Knowing that she wanted to write something, she asked herself a challenging question (where does sound go to when it’s not there) which helped her to look at the subject from a new angle.

Maggie quoted the poet Charles Simic: ‘Poems are the translation of silence’. It was this that inspired her to write the poem that won the Winchester Writers’ Poetry Competition in 1998. It reminded her of returning home from school to find that whatever had been causing her parents constant rowing had been overcome – they’d made up and what ensued was silence. Maggie chose to interpret that silence in the prize winning poem, ‘The Birds’.

Maggie quotes and reads the work of other poets taking inspiration from them and asking questions of her own understanding of them and reworking them from challenging angles.

zonesofavoidanceThe arena of addiction provides a wide range of material for a writer. But it is the drama triangle that interests Maggie. She knew that she wanted to write a long poem sequence and became interested in the ‘walls’ that we and our society use as coping mechanisms. During her research she found that the biggest wall of all is in the Milky Way near the Zone of Avoidance.

The Zone Of Avoidance
The Zone Of Avoidance

Maggie takes pride in writing all types of poetry. She wrote ‘Hooked’ in the form of a pantoum in which the lines are repeated. Her starting point was the emotion of grief personified as an animal – in this case, a dog. ‘You curl up with me when I lie down/I vow each time not to feed/I should lock you out/but you’re too far in.’

She spends much time crafting her work and making every word count and advises that using a working title is a good idea as the overall title is so important.

Experience, publication and attendance at workshops have all attributed to her work evolving. ‘Maybe you grow into your voice,’ she muses. ‘Looking back, the preoccupations stay the same but the voice has changed.’

Poets and their Poetry – Isabel Rogers Hampshire Poet 2016

Report by Lisa Nightingale

‘When I feel an itch at the back of my skull, I think; there’s a poem coming!’ Isabel Rogers Hampshire Poet 2016 told the Society at October’s meeting.

isabelrogers-jpegIsabel is now three quarters of her way through a hectic but fantastic year as Hampshire Poet. The post has enabled her to take her poetry onto the radio and into many of the county’s schools running workshops and getting the children excited about poetry.

Isabel is also an enthusiastic advocate of the Winchester Poetry Festival and in partnership with Hampshire Cultural Trust her latest commission has been produced for National Poetry Day. It is a poem in Book Morse on a book mark – you have to look at it as a column!

Isabel admitted to often working on a poem with no title adding it at the end and as for research – ‘I usually make it all up!’ she says. But on a serious note, Isabel fessed up to researching her subject to within an inch of his legend when once writing a poem about John Harrison.

John Harrison's Chronometer
John Harrison’s Chronometer

The poem was titled ‘John’s Curious Machines and it won the 2014 Cardiff International Poetry Competition. Still a man in her audience told her that one of her points was wrong!

Read other poets widely was her message – ‘It is essential. It is how we learn’.

Poetry Magazine, a publication based in Chicago (distributed internationally) has this month printed two of Isabel’s poems and she read Watching the Perseids to the Society.

Have a look at Isabel’s website – https://isabelrogers.org/

 

Poets and Their Poetry

Maura Dooley has published several collections of poetry, most recently Life Under MauraDooleyLifeUnderWaterWater and edited verse and essays including The Honey Gatherers: Love Poems and How Novelists Work.

Maggie Sawkins won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2013 with Zones of Avoidance. Her two poetry collections are Charcot’s Pet and The Zig Zag Woman.MaggieSawkinsZigZag

Special Guests: Isabel Rogers, Hampshire Poet 2016 and Hugh Greasley, local poet and ceramicist.

Mingle and meet poets amongst many other writers on Tuesday 11 October 2016. The evening will incorporate a short AGM which will start at 7.15pm

P&G Wells Book Stall with books available for sale

Wine, soft drinks available for purchase from 7.00pm

Members and students free; guests £5