November 2018 Competition Results: Gary Farnell – Adjudicator

The November competition was judged by Creative Writing Lecturer and acting HWS Chairman, Gary Farnell.

The brief was to write a 300 word account of an air crash survivor’s last few minutes in the air.

And the winners were:

First Place: Love Thy Neighbour by Gill Hollands

Second Place: Toxic by Barbara Needham

Third Place: Get a Grip by Helen Adlam  

Highly Commended: Going Down (in History) by Damon Wakes

Highly Commended: Now Concentrate … Think! by John Quinn 

 

 

 

Photo awaited

 

 

 

Helen Adlam (left) with Barbara Needham, Gill Hollands,  Damon Wakes and         John Quinn – photo by Summer Quigley

 

First Place: Love Thy Neighbour by Gill Hollands

This piece offers a highly dramatic situation in highly dramatic writing. It breaks the rules of writing [and] the heightened realism makes it outstanding – a worthy winner!’ 

‘Passengers please adopt the brace position.’ 

It drowns out my iPod. I forget my aching back. Stunned silence hangs. Time stops.

Dancing oxygen masks fall.  I jump.

A child wails. Shrieks explode.

The aisle is a ramp. Bottles roll.  Newspapers slide.  Shoes flip.  Light strips flick on.

Vibration. Clacking teeth. Jelly bellies.

White knuckles on the armrests. The plane howls.

Cursing, the mask defies my fingers.

Screaming.

‘What’s happening?’ A man shouts. A chorus. Unanswered.

Finally, I fit the mask.  Sweet air rushes. I pant it in.

‘Help!’ My neighbour’s hand fumbles. I snap elastic on grey curls.

‘All window blinds up, please!’ Yells a voice from below.

I reach across, yank up the blind. Gasp.

Flames, streaming. Black clouds billowing. Can’t swallow.

‘Ahhh!’ Wails my neighbour, arms up.

Muffled screams. Shouts. Prayers. Sobs. Flailing limbs.

Past the flames, I see blurring fields, buildings.

‘Brace! Brace!’ The captain yells. The siren blares.

I slap my hands over my head. Smash my face into the seat in front. Wait.

Grinding. Roaring loud. Louder. Engines scream. Cover ears. Wait.

Bang! Flying out my seat. Seatbelt tight. Slapping down.

Screeching. Hurtling, out of control.

Blue lights flashing past.

Slower. Leaning. Hanging on the belt. I see only asphalt.

Smoke. The strip lights flash.

‘Evacuate. Evacuate.’   Quick.

I unclip the belt. Unclip hers, coughing.  Climb into a crush. Drag her up. Fight them off. Shove her ahead.

Canted aisle underfoot. Hauling on seats.

Barged.  Can’t see. Shoved. Can’t breathe.

Arrows.

Magnet sunlight.  Eyes smarting, running.

She’s gone. Wait.

A hand pushes me down.  Hacking, I sit, slide.

Blinding day. Champagne air. Solid ground.

I heave deep breaths.  Stinking fuel.

Services converge. Foam billows.

Stumble to the bus.  A zombie shamble.

Safety.

A grey head lands on my shoulder.

We cry together.

Second Place: Toxic by Barbara Needham

‘Perhaps the most imaginative entry in this month’s competition [with] close attention to detail and careful plotting within the space of 300 words.’

‘Orbit and descend to landing site.’

Those were our orders.

We carried them out faultlessly.

‘Fire the retro-rockets,’ Ched commanded, his voice calm and authoritative. Immediately, the craft swayed and began decelerating. We were on the final approach.

There was an undercurrent of excitement among the crew, as red craters and sulphurous pools loomed around us. After years in space, we were about to land. We had rehearsed this manoeuvre hundreds of times.

But there was a problem.

‘Re-program system. Re-program system.’ The monotonous voice of the on-board computer interrupted our preparations. The warning lights flashed. ‘High definition analysis of destination area shows rocky outcrops. Re-program system.’

Chief engineer, Kai, looked aghast. ‘Bloody hell!’ he shouted, swinging into action, his robotic hand changing controls to manual, imputing coordinates of the new landing site. We all knew that last minute alteration in direction was fraught with danger.

While he was distracted, I covertly removed a small unit from the cryogenic store.

‘Solar energy reserves are low.’ Ched stared at banks of monitors.

‘And wind speeds high. More than 100 kilometres per hour.’ I voiced concern.

‘We are being swept off course. Brace yourselves. Brace!’ yelled Kai.

The spacecraft lurched uncontrollably, hurtling towards a jagged surface. A mighty explosion ripped the fuselage in pieces, scattering twisted metal and plastic.

In the eerie silence, I stumbled out of the carnage, clutching the frozen package, turning its dial to thaw mode. I smiled as I passed the mangled body of Ched. Now he was out of the way, I was free to assume the mantle of leader.

Even as I put the little box down, a jostling sound came from within. Eggs from planet Zog, soon to grow into the obedient slaves of this new toxic world. And I was their master.

Third Place: Get a Grip by Helen Adlam 

‘The story is clever at being funny and frightening both at the same time.’ 

You’re hurting my arm.

I am?

Yes you are.

Right.   But … WE’RE GOING DOWN!!  You heard the brace announcement, right? 

Yes, I did.

WHOA!!  DID YOU FEEL THAT?

My arm -?

Oh, right …  Hold on …  Ok, so my fingers are kind of locked on.  It happens when I’m scared.  I mean, when I’m, like, totally freaked out.  It’s very debilitating.

Isn’t it.

You seem pretty calm.  You know, considering. 

I just wanted to finish reading this chapter.  If I can.  So, if you don’t mind …

Ok.  Wow!  Like, really, WOW.  Because I was thinking that if I get out of this alive … I’m doing BIG things.  I’m going to totally turn my life around …   

Good for you.

I’m thinking a kind of AA 8 step plan thing.  Or is it 12 steps?  12 sounds a lot.  Anyway, I’m going to make amends to everyone and HEAL myself.    Starting with my mother.   Ooh, so …  Where to begin?   I mean, my mother could be a total pain in the arse.  Very manipulative.  Right from when I was around five.  Or six?  No five.  Six – yeah.  I was small for my age.  Look, I’m sorry but …                                          

What?

Could you, you know, put the book down?  You probably don’t realise, but you’re giving off a very negative energy.  I’m finding it pretty stressful, to be honest.

Fuck’s sake

Sorry?

Putting the book down now.

Ok – thanks.  Gently would be good.  No … okay.  Your call.

* * *

Anyhoo …  after my mother and my father, there was granny.  Now granny ………  JESUS!! YOU MUST HAVE FELT THAT!  I CAN SEE CARS ON THE GROUND!!   I CAN SEE …  actually … you’re sort of hurting me.  Your hands round my neck are, like, totally cutting off my ….  

 

Highly Commended: Going Down (in Hisotyr) by Damon Wakes 

‘This has the most sophisticated vocabulary of all the entries [and] is bold in its intellectual conceits.’ 

It’s strange, the kind of thing that pops into your head when you’re about to slam face-first into Greenland at six times the speed of sound. For me it was: “Oh no, not again.”

I’ve tried to explain that a sleigh is a ground vehicle – suited for a very specific type of terrain – and that it lacks the control surfaces required to manoeuvre with sufficient precision to navigate to the house of every child in the world while also maintaining the speed necessary to do so in just one night. I’ve also made the case that although it is – contrary to all common sense – possible for the collective wishes of mankind to get the sleigh airborne, the 1.9 billion stockings’ worth of toys and bonbons still have negative buoyancy and will tend to make for a rather top-heavy ride.

Frankly, as I barrel towards the ground at eighty miles a second, I’m forced to wonder why an individual elf with the industrial output of a large Chinese province would opt to move cargo by sled in the first place. You’d have to imagine he’s got the wherewithal to build a sizeable aeroplane. A blimp. Even an ekranoplan.

I am not being politely self-deprecating when I say than an uncommonly shiny reindeer nose is no substitute for the anti-collision lights mandated by law.

For me personally, I suppose Father Christmas’ slapdash approach to aviation isn’t too much of a bother. If you’re magic enough to withstand the aerodynamic heating you encounter on this kind of journey, you’re magic enough to have it end in a faceplant and still walk away.

It’s the children I feel sorry for.

And the parents, who’ll have to buy the toys themselves for the 2,019th time in a row.

Highly Commended: Now Concentrate … Think! by John Quinn 

‘The prose is very lively, with an effervescent quality. It is very effective at capturing the equivalent of an adrenalin rush in the speaker’s mind.’

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Minutes to live… should I record a farewell to the kids on my phone?

Ridiculous, it won’t survive the crash! I could scroll something on the back of the menu with lots of kisses? Stupid: it will burn in the fire.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Shouldn’t my past life be flashing before me? No, that’s when you drown, idiot! How about regretting things I’ve done? Wouldn’t it be better to regret the things I haven’t done, like climbing Everest or becoming vegetarian? No, soya’s rubbish!

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Bloody English passengers, all calm and considerate. The bloke across the aisle is offering to share his tiny bottle of Prosecco with the old lady next to him. Why can’t this plane be full of Italians: all shouts, panic and gesticulations? At least it would be entertaining, rather than polite.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

What about sex? When the lads are having a beer we’ve talked about ‘what we would do if we knew we had minutes to live.’ And it’s always included sex. My last act on earth, or at least above it, could be to join the mile-high club. I should grab one of the cabin-crew, throw her over my shoulder, drag her into the toilet and have my wicked way. Maybe not with my shoulder…

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Well, they do work – the oxygen masks actually do magically appear, hitting you on the head. Those yellow mouth covers look like they are dancing on the end of their clear tubes. Now concentrate… think! Say a prayer or find religion. No, I gave all that bollocks up at the age of eleven.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Why have I pulled this seatbelt so tight, it’s cutting the blood supply? Still, that’s the least of my worries.

Fuck …

 

 

 

 

 

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Vortex Magazine Market Research

Vortex magazine was first published in 2005 by the University of Winchester staff to showcase the work of their student writers.

After over a decade of success, the publication has been handed over to third year Creative Writing students to revitalise it for a new and extended readership.

In this endeavour, Vortex are seeking the opinions of the readers we would like to reach in order to create the most exciting edition yet.

As local writers, many of you students yourselves, we hope that as many of you as possible can spare a moment to give us feedback about what you would like to read from the other creative voices in your area.

Although originally only accepting submissions from University of Winchester students, Vortex opened the door to poetry and prose from students of all institutions as of last year.

It is not too late to submit and the details of our submissions team can be found here, on our market research survey: https://goo.gl/forms/ywYgBoS9LQ1ZIEyj2

We would be very grateful if you could take the time to help us and we look forward showing you a new and improved Vortex in 2019.

Hyde 900 Poetry Competition – Winners Announced!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hyde 900 First World War Poetry Competition.  The winners, judged by Edward Fennell and his panel, were announced on Saturday 27th October at Hyde Parish Hall, and beautifully read by local actor, Nigel Bradshaw.

The shortlisted poems were:

‘Theatre of War’ by Patsy Rath

‘The Potato Field’ by Kevin Barrett

‘Home’ by Jenny McRobert

‘Woman in War’ by Sue Wrinch

‘Missing Soldiers’ by Sue Wrinch

‘Hero’ by Jacqueline Norris

‘To our Unshared Childhood’ by Hilary Hares

… and the winners were …

 

First Place:

‘The Potato Field’ by Kevin Barrett

Winter is about to drop
From a dark cloud,
And the smell
Of old potato mould

Clings to the last haulm,
The crunch of hobnails on gravel
Breaks the silence,
And in the flames

I see vacant eyes
Staring across a wind stroked field
Where the spade
Unsure in gun calloused hands,

Scattered the first tubers
Onto the free black soil,
Such are the things I contemplate,
When I stand alone

In a field stroked by the wind,
When winter is about to drop.

 

Second Place:

‘Home’ by Jenny McRobert

You come home to me
with peonie arms, their petals
quiet-fall covering my face.
Your feet tread over new day poppies
that open to receive your touch.
Your face fades
like warm summer wind
as you move towards me.
Behind your eyes I see the mud flood
and slip through.

Pale in false lightening, strung together
like rows of newly ripe fruit
hanging on a fragile bough,
they turn their driftwood eyes
to those that wait, who fix the horizon.
Limp fingers fumble
the tattered fabric of their lives,
as point on point they stitch
through time’s treacle-tread.

Your gentle hand
whispers my moistened cheek.
Folding my sadness into your palm,
you pick up your knapsack
and turn to resume your journey.
Like foot-padded night,
you carry the swag
of my sweet sleep
tossed
carelessly
over
your shoulder.

 

Third Place:

‘To our Unshared Childhood’ by Hilary Hares

He’s the boy who stands and grins
behind the cricket stumps

and, in another shot, Goliath, braced
behind the plywood shield my father made.

If I’m bored, I’ll make him into a game
of knights and dragons on the kitchen floor.

When I play up he’s the sword
the Red Queen raises – I pretend

we share the step where I’m sent to sit.
Today he’s the man who carries

wartime back from the camp
in a bag of kit;

the man I’ve never met,
the soldier, who, my mother says,

will live with us and call me
sister.

Ian Thomas and Allison Symes At Hampshire Writers’ Society

The evening’s proceedings began with the formalities of the Society’s Annual General Meeting to attend to. Due to the intense interest and anticipation brought about by the evening’s speakers, it came as a pleasant surprise when the AGM proved to a brief affair comprising mainly of the presentation of the Society’s financial position to date.

Treasurer of this past 7 years, Crispin Drummond, used the image of a steady ship to describe the financial position to date. Year on year the organisation operates at either a small profit (as in this year gone) or a small debt, no upheavals or dramatic fluctuations have occurred or are anticipated. The report was proposed as an accurate reflection of the Society’s current status by Peter Hitchen and this was seconded by Angela Chadwick. Gary Farnell made copies of the Annual Report available to interested parties whilst simultaneously asking if the were any questions, or if any clarifications were needed.  There were neither and the AGM concluded in a timely fashion.

Main Speaker, Ian Thomas

 

 

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Ian Thomas, partner and founder of Talespinners

 

Ian is a partner and founder of the games writing company, Talespinners and it quickly became apparent that if there was any aspect of writing for games of which he was unaware it probably wasn’t worth knowing. Such was the depth and detail of Ian’s presentation that he could easily have taken the whole of the evening and more besides to offer his insider’s view of the industry (worth an estimated £2.4b pounds to the UK’s economy alone).

The pace and detail of Ian’s presentation was such that it would take a far better reporter (and note -taker!) than I to do his slot justice. With that in mind, for those who want to get a more comprehensive insight into games writing and Ian’s professional creativity please visit the following links here and here.  However, needs must, so what follows really is a broad brush rendering of Ian’s presentation.

We began on generally familiar territory when Ian explained that narratives are just as crucial to success in computer games as they are in general fiction. It seemed that the audience was made up of what can be described as natives (those born and brought up with computers/games) and immigrants (those arriving in the tech-world after computers and gaming was already well established). That gaming is particularly popular amongst certain demographics may have accounted for the unusually large number of very welcome younger listeners in the audience.

A recurring theme in Ian’s presentation was the importance of the concept that games players must believe that they possess a locus of control over what they are doing.  Of course, given the nature of predetermination, that’s inbuilt into computer games, the possession of locus of control is always an illusion but an illusion that, in the most successful game’s platforms, remains undiscerned by the players. This illusion of control can be bolstered in several ways and one of the ways is to enhance the players’ perception that the game’s characters actually care for them.  The idea of ‘call-back’ helps in this regard.  When used intelligently a simple thing like a programme remembering a player’s breakfast choice and then much later in the game recalling that choice (‘would you like your favourite breakfast cereal – Frosties wasn’t it?’) can really convince a player that the game ‘understands’ their wants and needs and in so doing enhance the perception of the locus of control.

The level of collaboration needed for success within a games writing company and the level of outreach into the wider profession is really staggering. Writers, animators, actors CGI experts, voice actors, artists, coders, editors to mention just a few all come together in order to produce a game product. Luckily, for those starting out in games writing access to the ‘tools’ needed is very cheap (and nowadays often free) compared to even a short time ago. There are careers to be forged and fortunes to be made by people who have the willingness to learn and the talent to put that knowledge into original and creative use.

Special Guest, Allison Symes

 

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Allison Symes, flash fiction author.

 

Allison writes novels, short stories and scripts and describes her writing as ‘fairytales with bite’. Amongst her favourite authors are Austen, P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett and her work can be found online at Alfie Dog Fiction, Cafe Lit and Shortbread Short Stories.

Allison Symes is a flash fiction author par excellence and throughout her presentation offered valuable advice and insight honed from long personal experience about how to write successfully in this genre. Commonly flash fiction is a story that is told in 1k words or fewer. Allison has found herself writing drabbles (stories of 100 words exactly) and she explained that notwithstanding this level of brevity the story must still comprise a beginning a middle and an end and that flash fiction, in general, must be character-led and be short sharp and shocking.

The fast turnaround afforded to those who submit to flash fiction outlets allow writers to generate a portfolio of publications. This can be undertaken alongside that grand opus that seems to be taking forever to complete. Simultaneously the discipline needed to write flash fiction enhances a writer’s editorial skills and this then feeds into all aspects of a writer’s output. In short (!) write flash fiction to exercise your writing muscles, a little bit every day is better than a big splurge once a month.

Finally, on a more personal note, I’d like to finish by expressing my thanks to Barbara Large, Dr Gary Farnell, Hampshire Writers’ Society committee and its members at large for the opportunity to contribute these monthly reports which I hope have been informative and sometimes even a little entertaining. Alas, I must now put the top back on my reporter’s pen and stick my notebook back in its drawer but happy in the knowledge that my successor will do an even better job than I.

October 2018 Competition Results: Adjudicated by Ian Thomas

The October competition was judged by this month’s speaker, Ian Thomas, who runs Talespinners, a story-for-games company.

The brief was: Write a 300 word pitch/story outline for a computer game.  

And the winners were:

First Place: Abyss Diver by Jordan Ezekude

Second Place: The Mortician’s Cruise by Alex Carter

Third Place: Draw Nine by Damon Wakes  

As there were slightly fewer entries this month, no ‘highly commended’ prizes were awarded.  

October winners
This month’s winners: Damon Wakes (left) with Ian Thomas, Jordan Ezekude and Alex Carter.
Photo by David Eadsforth

 

First Place: Abyss Diver by Jordan Ezekude  

 ‘This is a pitch which could easily exist as a current game.  It shows a good understanding of game mechanics, player choice, setting and advertising copy.’

Intense side-scrolling demon-slaying adventure awaits in Abyss Diver, a new roguelike dungeon-crawling platformer starring the angel of vengeance Kushiel! Scorned by Heaven, feared by Hell and stalked by Death, guide the relentless angel through the nine circles of the abyss and save the Earth or die trying! In Abyss Diver, you control Kushiel, a rebel from Heaven on a personal mission to free the Earth from the Seven Sins by diving into the abyss and slaying its infernal masters, from the lazy Belphegor to the boastful Lucifer. Whether he succeeds or fails depends entirely on how you play! When the world enters a dark age in which its people are overwhelmed by violence, selfishness, hatred, fear and despair, the Heavens begin to lose the faith which they earned over the centuries. Bound by divine law, the angels above are forbidden to directly intervene with the crumbling human world. Unwilling to sit back and watch as human society loses control and falls apart, the short-tempered but caring Kushiel runs away from the Kingdom of God and prepares to infiltrate the Nine Circles of Hell and destroy their evil influences on the world as we know it. Kushiel’s dive into the abyss will be faced with tremendous peril and hostility, crawling with hordes of blood-thirsty demons and wretched traps. Armed with only his blade, bow, arrows and wits, he will need every treasure and weapon he can get his hands on, each with their own unique traits. He will also encounter the souls of mortal prisoners, each with their own blessings and curses, which Kushiel may either redeem or punish. Remember this: who you redeem and who you punish will determine how the story ends.  Now brace yourself for a holy dive to remember in Abyss Diver!

 

Second Place: The Mortician’s Cruise by Alex Carter   

 An intriguing outline which makes you want to play the game to soak up the style and setting, as well as find out what happens next.  This wouldn’t be out of place as a pitch for a successful indie game.’

The year is 1933. You are the servant to a wealthy British family, travelling on an ocean liner to their new home in New York. Also on the liner is a mummy’s sarcophagus and specimens of dead animals, bound for the Museum of Natural History. But they won’t stay dead for long…

Lost on an errand, you stumble upon the ship’s morgue, home to three corpses. The Mortician is up to something, some kind of voodoo-inspired ritual. Of course, your employers don’t believe you, but soon strange things start happening. Those once dead are re-animated. Amid the chaos spread by the newly undead, you ally with a Professor who’d been travelling with the museum artefacts, before they came back to life. He thinks there’s a way out of this. When he’s set upon by the re-animated mummy from his own collection, the Professor reaches to hand you his folder of papers, but they get caught in the wind, scattering throughout the ship.

The crew are soon overpowered and the ship stops moving, so your best hope is to evade the undead: only fighting, with makeshift tools, when there’s no other way. There’s no escape by lifeboat: the waters surrounding the ship teem with undead sea creatures brought back by the Mortician’s curse. Exploring the ship, you discover a sleepwalker in the ballroom, accompanied by a Frankensteinian hoax mermaid that’s part-monkey, part-fish, and has returned to life. The sleepwalker is a sideshow Somnambulist and fortune-teller, who the undead won’t touch. Together you commandeer a cabin, where it’s safe to store things you find around the ship, although the undead still come knocking.

Each night, you dream of your childhood, a life of crime and poverty in Edwardian London. You’ve already survived that – can you survive this, too? It’s up to you, and the Somnambulist, to find the clues in the Professor’s scattered papers, discover keys to restricted areas of the ship, and put a stop to the vampiric Mortician’s voodoo enchantment.

 

Third Place: Draw Nine by Damon Wakes

‘This pitch explains in detail how the game is played and has a framework the player can easily grasp.  It would very much suit a mobile game.’

 Draw Nine sees the player take on the role of a student of magic facing their final test. Leaving the isolated tower that has so far been their home, they must set off on a journey with nothing but nine magic cards in three suits: the Steed, which is helpful; the Serpent, which is destructive; and the Spider, which may be either helpful or destructive (its effects are lesser, but random). The initial selection is random, but will always include at least one of each.

At regular intervals along the journey, the player is offered a choice of two places to go. Whichever they choose, they will encounter a situation which demands they use a card, destroying it in the process. The card chosen dictates whether the outcome of the event is good or bad: Steed cards can be used to help those in need, Serpent cards can be used to destroy enemies, and Spider cards offer an opportunity to hedge one’s bets when it’s unclear which is which. To do the greatest possible good (or evil), the player must try to choose locations suited to the cards they hold.

At the final location, with only one card remaining, the player comes to the end of their test: they are greeted by the previous student to leave the tower, who has been watching their progress through a crystal ball. This previous student has not used any of their cards, instead choosing to hoard them. After a brief conversation, during which the effects of the player’s decisions are appraised, the player is offered one final choice: to use their last remaining card on the previous student or to walk away.

 

HWS Society Chair, Barbara Large, launches new book

Having battled with the myeloma (cancer of the blood) for a year, Barbara was keen for her experience to benefit others. Barbara has written about the ups and downs of life with cancer and has collated these anecdotes together with recipes shared with her by neighbours and friends who sought to support her during this time, to form a book. What began as a germ of an idea at her kitchen table is now Scrumptious Recipes Shared with a Pampered Patient: Supporting a family member, friend or neighbour as they cope with illness

In this unique recipe book, Barbara Large shares an honest and witty account of the highs and lows after being diagnosed with Myeloma in October 2017. Inspired by meals which friends prepared to support Barbara as she battled with this illness, the book offers a guide to appetising lunches, suppers and tasty desserts that will delight a neighbour, friend or family member who is unable to shop or cook for themselves.

Discover how the simple act of sharing a meal can brighten someone’s day!

The book is a testament to friendship and community support as neighbours, students, friends, and colleagues rallied round Barbara when she became ill by providing meals daily and offering much-needed company.

Excerpt:
‘Barbara Large is not your ordinary senior citizen. Long recognised as an extraordinary superwoman, she also had the good luck to live in one of the most supportive villages in Hampshire. Phone calls and group emails asking for help flew around, resulting in a core contingent of 29 friends who were duly christened “Barbara’s Group”. The Rota was born.’
Published by North Oak Press, the book will be released on 15th October, 2018 and stocked at P&G Wells bookshop, 11 College Street, Winchester. SO23 9LZ but is available to pre-order now.  Please visit http://anne-wan.com/shop/ 
Selling for £6.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Nick Jonas cancer treatment ward at Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester.
BarbaraLargerecipecover
Excerpt:
‘My name is Barbara and yes… I am a very pampered patient, loved, cherished, sustained and supported by a magnificent group of friends, neighbours, teaching colleagues and students who came together as a team, some meeting each other online for the first time as they offered help. I couldn’t believe it.
But it did occur to me that this magnificent generosity of spirit could be an encouragement to others if, on good days, I could gradually collate episodes from my experience, along with some helpful information and the scrumptious recipes that were shared with me.’

Tracey Corderoy and Barry Timms At Hampshire Writers’ Society

An evening spent with Hampshire Writers’ Society is often a serendipitous, informative and enjoyable affair, the curtain-raiser to the 2018/19 season was all three and more besides. From a request for ghostwriters (see below) to a mix of speakers engaged in an eclectic range of topics including a writer’s self-publishing journey and an in-depth explanation of what it takes to produce a child’s picture book from concept to completion, September’s meeting had it all.

If any member would like to be involved in a ghostwriting project and is specifically interested and able to render some forgotten but important aspects of British history (channel your inner Walter Scott) then please do get in touch with the Society via the usual routes.

Main Speakers: Tracey Corderoy and Barry Timms

Tracey-Corderoy-IMG_4249-e1436984118470Barry_pic

Children’s Author, Tracey Corderoy and the editor of Little Tiger Press, Barry Timms shared the platform to offer a detailed and highly informative account of what it takes to get a new children’s picture book on to the shelves in an ever increasingly difficult market.

To give some idea of the scale of Barry’s annual endeavours it’s not uncommon to see him working on 30 separate projects per year whilst simultaneously managing output and direction from multiple authors on behalf of Little Tiger. Given the extent of his involvement with the creative output of diverse writers, it is important for him to gauge author sensitivities and in so doing manage people as individuals in order to support them and help them produce work of the highest standards. With this last in mind, Tracey pointed out that their own author/editor relationship is founded on trust and mutual respect. With a production time of 18 months from a project’s acquirement to the finished book appearing on the shelves, managing relationships must be an important co-skill.

Over time, Tracey has developed a thick author’s skin and has come to see that many of the editorial decisions that might at first seem out of kilter end up being for the best both in terms of artistic quality and commercial success. On average, we were told, a picture book requires 7 re-writes with some requiring many more than that. Manuscript development goes through 3 main phases starting with a structural edit followed by a line edit and finally a copy edit/proofread. Unlike most books aimed at adults, children’s picture books have the all-important aspect of illustrations to consider. The illustrator has a pivotal role in blending the narrative and close cooperation between all the production team is indispensable as the book’s artwork develops. This is a process, Barry explained, that is undertaken in 4 phases with character creation, thumbnail production, working on the text/image interaction and then the final artwork.

Many will have struggled to produce a ‘blurb’ to support their own work let alone a synopsis but these are two elements that are just as important when trying to market children’s books to an interested publisher. The two main children’s Book Fairs are held in Bologna and Frankfurt and Little Toller’s commercial year revolves around these two events. Tracy and Barry finished off their presentation by agreeing that memorable characters often represented by animals involved in twisting plots or favourite themes are perhaps the best places for any would-be children’s author to start from.

Special Guest: Brenda Sedgwick

Copy of P1100086

Brenda has been a long-time member of Hampshire Writers’ Society and has taught within the adult education sector with a specific focus on creative writing for many years. Latterly, she has lived and worked in Sri Lanka where she pursues her twin passions of teaching and writing. With an already enviable publishing track record, she wanted to extend her output to include a ‘proper’ novel, a goal that she has now achieved with the appearance of her debut, A Marriage, A Journey and A Dog  http://bhsbooks.com 

It is a work that plots the story of Natalie, an ordinary woman of humble means, who undergoes transformative experiences when she undertakes a journey through Europe.  Brenda writes stories that she herself would want to read with narratives underscored by humour and believable characters (we all know a Natalie) that carry the reader along briskly. With a virtual clean sweep of 5star reviews, we should all look forward to Brenda’s future work.

All images © Lexica Films

 

September 2018 Competition Results: Tracey Corderoy and Barry Timms – Adjudicators

The September competition was judged by children’s author, Tracey Corderoy, in conjunction with Barry Timms from Little Tiger Press.

The brief for this month’s competition was: Write a 300 word story for under-fives featuring a dinosaur, a tea-cup and a football. 

And the winners were:

First Place: The Little Green Lump by Mary Prior

Second Place: Reggie Steggie’s Baby Sister by Lynn Clement

Third Place: Eggscapade by Summer Quigley 

Highly Commended: Dilys, Don’t be a Dodo! by Kristin Tridimas

Highly Commended: When I’m Big by Kim Howard 

September Competition
Third Place Winner, Summer Quigley (centre), with Highly Commended Winners Kristin Tridimas (left) and Kim Howard (right) – photo by Alex Carter, LexicaFilms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Place: The Little Green Lump by Mary Prior  

 ‘The rhymes were accessible and appropriate and the overall scansion was good.  The story had an evocative atmosphere and a strong visual sense.’

In the kitchen cupboard, tucked safely away

lives a teeny tiny dino who longs to play.

So he creeps out quietly late at night

from his bright yellow egg, so round and bright.

The house is silent, no-one around

He’s looking for a friend but none can be found.

So he climbs on the table, really, really high,

and gazes out the window at the starry sky.

When a shooting star comes whizzing, fizzling down.

Dino jumps then falls backwards, just like a clown,

right into a teacup that wobbles and rocks

before crashing off the table. The worst of shocks!

“Oh dear,” says a voice, which makes Dino jump

‘A cup’s fallen down and here’s a little green lump!’

Dino is cross and his bottom is sore.

He opens his mouth and he tries to roar.

All that happens is a funny little squeak.

“I’m a dinosaur not a lump and you’ve got a cheek!”

A hand picks him up with very great care

And places him gently on a kitchen chair.

‘Yes, you are quite right, you’re a baby T. Rex.

Goodness gracious me, whatever next!

My name is Sam, I’m a boy of nearly five

and I didn’t think T. Rexes were still alive?

“Of course I’m alive, ‘cos I’m talking to you

I haven’t been here long and I think I’m new.

I’ve got no dad and I’ve got no mum,

I’m feeling all alone and very, very glum.”

“Come and live with me,” said Sam with a smile.

I’m bored with my football, you can stay for a while.”

And they lived together and became best friends

And this is where my story ends.

Second Place: Reggie Steggie’s Baby Sister by Lynn Clement  

 ‘A strong theme where the main character goes on a satisfying emotional journey.’

Reggie Steggie’s mum was having a baby. The baby was inside an egg and Reggie couldn’t wait for it to hatch.

‘Can I look at the egg Mum,’ he’d say to his mother every morning before breakfast.

‘Yes, but be gentle,’ said his mum.

Reggie liked to put his nose against the egg and say, ’hello baby.’

‘She can’t hear you,’ said his dad one day.

Reggie stood up straight. ‘She?’ he said.

‘Yes Reggie, our new baby is a girl,’ said his dad.

Reggie stomped out of the bedroom and into the garden. He picked up his football and began kicking it hard against the fence.

‘Hey Reggie,’ said his neighbour Rosie Raptor,’ that’s loud.’

Reggie kicked the ball hard one more time, then stopped.

‘What’s the matter Reggie?’ she asked. ‘You look upset.’

‘My new baby is a girl!’ said Reggie pulling his tongue out.

‘So what’s wrong with that?’ asked Rosie.

‘Girls can’t play football!’ said Reggie.

‘Oh really?’ said Rosie climbing over the fence. ‘Want a game?’

Rosie went in goal and Reggie took penalty shots at her. Rosie saved every single one.

‘Humph,’ said Reggie with his hands on his hips. ‘My turn in goal.’

Rosie took five penalties against Reggie and scored them all.

‘Humph,’ said Reggie.

Reggie’s dad came into the garden. ‘Bye Rosie,’ he said as she climbed back over the fence.

Reggie’s dad put his arm around him. ‘Are you excited to meet your new sister?’ he asked.

‘Maybe,’ said Reggie, ‘as long as she doesn’t play football as good as Rosie does!’

Mr Steggie laughed, ‘well it’s time now,’ he said taking Reggie into the house.

‘I’ve just made your mum a cup of tea in her favourite tea-cup; would you like to help me with the tray?’

Reggie helped his dad take the tea-tray into the bedroom.

‘Skwark,’ said his baby sister.

‘Wow,’ said Reggie, ‘she’s cool.’

Third Place: Eggscapade by Summer Quigley

‘An action-packed plot with a fun premise and a heart-warming resolution.’ 

T-Rex Tereza and the family Bear Dog, Brian, sat, chins resting on the table-rock.  They stared at the egg and Tereza tapped her claws. “Eggsitting is boring. When will you hatch baby so we can play together?”

“I know, I’ll paint a beautiful pattern on your shell – the pattern of my most favourite thing in the world!” Soon the egg was covered in black and white hexagons. Tereza left it on the table to dry.

Daddy noticed the football egg on the table and threw it in the garden, “Tereza, keep your footballs outside!”

Tereza and Bear Dog chased the flying egg out the back door, “Daddy, that was our baby!”

Daddy and Mummy dashed after the football egg too, which now bounced down the hill in the back garden and rolled under the gate.

Tereza attempted a sliding tackle to stop it but – DOINK – it hit a tree root instead. A small crack appeared, but it bowled onwards.

Brian picked it up in his mouth, playing with it like his favourite ball. “Brian, don’t do that.  My little brother or sister is in there!”   Brian dropped the egg.

“OOOOF!” Tereza dived to the floor to save it but the egg slipped through her fingers, and lying on her tummy, she watched as it rushed through the grass and bumped into a rock.

CRACK! The egg broke into two, flipped in the air and landed like a saucer holding its tea cup. Tereza rushed to the egg, to see two big eyes blinking keenly, and two big hands reaching. “You’re OK,” she sighed, collapsing on the floor beside him.

“Mummy, Daddy, I’ve got a baby brother! I’ve nicknamed him T-Cup.”

Suddenly, an acorn fell from the tree. T-Cup, sprung from his shell and caught it in his oversized hands.

Tereza scooped him up in her arms, beaming at him with pride, “You’re going to be the best goalkeeping brother a striker sister could ever have!”

Highly Commended: Dilys, Don’t be a Dodo! by Kristin Tridimas

‘Written in good, child-appropriate language with an enjoyable and really humorous twist!’ 

Spread 1 (p.3 right side)

In a wild part of the woods where the whitebeams grow, Dilys the dinosaur lays an egg.

Spread 2 (p.4 &p.5)

Dilys loves her egg.  She buries it in the sand and sings it to sleep.  The egg is beautiful and big and blue.  “I’m going to call you Phyllis,” sings Dilys.

Spread 3 (p.6 left side)

The next day is Monday.  Dilys decides that Phyllis needs a brother.  So she kisses her and sets off to find one.

(p.7 right side)

“Look!  What a splendidly spotted egg.”  So Dilys picks up the egg and takes it home.

Spread 4 (p.8 & p.9)

Dilys loves her new egg.  She buries it in the sand and sings it to sleep.  “I’m going to call you Douglas,” sings Dilys.

Spread 5 (p.10 left side)

On Tuesday, Dilys decides Phyllis and Douglas need a sister.  So she kisses them both and sets off to find one.

(p.11 right side)

“Look!  What a delicate, dainty egg.”  So Dilys picks up the egg and takes it home.

Spread 6 (p.12 & p.13)

Dilys loves her new egg.  She buries it in the sand and sings it to sleep.  “I’m going to call you Betty,” sings Dilys.

Spread 7 (p. 14 left side)

On Wednesday, Wise Old Pterodactyl swoops down.  “What are you doing there, Dilys?” he asks.

(p.15 right side)

Dilys puffs up with pride.  She shows him her wonderful family of eggs.  Pterodactyl shakes his head and laughs.  “I’ll be back,” he says and soars up into the sky.

Spread 8 (p.16 &p.17)

On Thursday, Douglas is flat and empty.  Dilys feels flat and empty too.  “My splendid egg!” she wails.

Spread 9 (p.18 &p.19)

On Friday, Betty is squashed and broken.  Dilys feels squashed and broken too.  “My darling egg!” she wails.

Spread 10 (p.20 & p.21)

On Saturday, Dilys is very sad.  But then, the first egg begins to crack …   (one blurry claw visible)

and break …   (blurry clawed hand and nose)

POP!   (blurry, tiny dinosaur head)

Spread 11 (p.22 & p.23)

Suddenly, Wise Old Pterodactyl swoops down and drops something at her feet.

“Dilys, don’t be a dodo!  PUT YOUR GLASSES ON.”

Spread 12 (p.24 &25)  No text.

Picture instructions:  until now, everything has been like an impressionist painting, with the eggs extra blurry – their colours and shapes are visible but that is all.  Now the picture is extra clear, more like a photograph, with in the centre a broken, shiny blue egg with a tiny dinosaur poking out the top.  The two other eggs are revealed as a football (now deflated) and an upside down teacup missing its handle (now broken into several large but recognisable pieces).

Page 26 (overleaf left hand side only)

Picture of Dilys wearing her glasses, smiling, her baby dinosaur in her arms.

Highly Commended: When I’m Big by Kim Howard  

‘A nice steady rhythm with a memorable voice.  Good sense of observation with a lovely ending.’ 

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever have porridge for breakfast.

I’ll have an egg and dippy soldiers.  But not a little egg – I want a big egg, a huge egg, a dinosaur egg.

It will be too big to have in an egg cup, or a tea-cup, or any sort of cup.  I’ll rest it in a mixing bowl and eat up every bit.

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever stay home with Gran.

I’ll spend all day at the zoo.  But not just wandering round – I want to play with all the animals.

I’ll go climbing with the monkeys, swimming with the penguins and running with the zebra.  We’ll play until we’re tired and then stare at the people watching us.

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever spend a day at the shops.

I’ll go to a field.  But not just any field – I want to go to a proper football field.

I’ll kick from the spot and run down the wing.  I’ll pass and I’ll tackle and block.  I’ll strike the football a perfect kick and score from the penalty spot.

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever let Mum cut my hair.

I’ll let my hair grow.  But not just a little bit – I want it past my shoulders and down to the floor.

I’ll make a long plait when it gets in the way or tie it in a heap on top.  I’ll use it as a skipping rope, a whip or a lasso.  I’ll undo it when I’m tired and it’ll make the snuggliest blanket.

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever stop hugging my Mum.

Her hugs are better than eggs the size of footballs or monkeys with long hair.

Her hugs are the best thing in the world and show how much she cares.

 

The Men from Hyde – Herbert Frederick Collins

Herbert Frederick Collins was born in Winkfield (a village between Bracknell and Windsor in Berkshire), at the end of 1897, the son of Edwin James Collins and his wife Sarah.  His father Edwin was born in Newmarket, Cambs, and worked as a domestic gardener throughout East Anglia. The family were living in Winchester by 1907, since their youngest son Ernest died that year in Winchester aged 6.

In the 1911 census, the family is living at The Nursery, Park Road, Winchester where Edwin is now a nurseryman, employing others to run the nursery, including his son Bernard William, aged 18.

In November 1914, at the age of 17, Herbert enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment as a Trooper, with the army number 33443.  He served with the Pioneers, the 11th (Service) Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment.  The 11th Battalion was formed in Winchester in September 1914, and their main function was the repair of trenches, maintenance of roadways and tracks, bringing up coils of barbed wire and picket posts.  When the need arose, they would convert to full fighting troops.

The Battalion moved to Ireland and Aldershot to train, before being mobilised for war on 18th December 1915.  They landed at Le Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front.

By mid-February 1918, the Germans had moved many divisions from the now collapsed Eastern front to the West.  The Allies had been expecting an attack in March, and it came as a massive onslaught of the Kaiserschlacht (Emperor’s Battle), a series of assaults on the Allied lines that was supposed to bring the Germans victory in the West after the defeat of Russia in the East in 1917.  Thus began the First Battles of the Somme which took place from 21st March – 5th April 1918. The first phase was the Battle of St Quentin (21st -23rd March) and Herbert was Killed in Action on 22nd March 1918.  He was 20 years old.

The Battle diary of the 11th Battalion begins the entry for 21st March 1918 with “German barrage put down on the Front Line and back area very heavily shelled –  gas and High Explosive shells”.  The Battalion had to retreat though “stampede was avoided and transport removed without casualties”.  On the

morning of 22nd March, “Enemy commenced his attack at 10:30am in a heavy mist … The right flank of the ST EMILIE position being now completely turned, the withdrawal continued to VILLERS FAUCON, Battalion suffering several casualties during the withdrawal.  Successive positions were taken up on the railway embankment and on the high ground.”

Herbert was buried at Pozieres Cemetery which is some way to the west of the site of the action on 22nd March.  Some idea of the scale of the fighting on the Western Front at this stage of the war is given by the sheer number of burials in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Pozieres: the total number of Commonwealth troops buried here is 14,708 – and this is just one cemetery. By May 1918, the Battalion had lost so many men that it had been reduced to becoming a training cadre.

Herbert’s older brother, Bernard William, enlisted in the army much earlier, in 1912, aged 18 or 19, as a Private in the Hampshire Regiment.  He served in India, Mesopotamia (Iraq), and Persia.  He survived the war and married May Louisa Munt in 1922 in Winchester.

The Men from Hyde – Thomas Bernard Loader

Thomas Bernard Loader was born in 1887 in the Winchester registration district.

His parents, Edward Loader and Emily (nee Roberts), had married in Shoreditch at the end of 1873 when Emily was only 21.  In the 1881 census they can be found at 9, Clement Street. Edward is aged 33, a grocer’s porter, born in Colden Common; Emily is 29.  They have 4 children: Kate (9), Edward (6), Mary (3), and Teresa (1). Emily and her children were all born in Winchester.

In the 1891 census, the family is living at 17, Hyde Close.  Edward, 44, is a porter. There are now four more children: Albert (8), James (7), Thomas (4) and Margaret (2).

In the 1901 census, the family is living at 16, Hyde Close (is the address of 17, Hyde Close in 1891 a mistake? Or did they move next door?).  Edward is still a grocer’s porter and two of his sons have followed him in the trade: James, 16, is a draper’s porter, and Thomas, 14, a grocer’s porter.  The older five siblings have left home (Albert had enlisted in the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday).  Since the last census, two more daughters have been born: Emily (8), and Florence (6).

In the 1911 census, Edward, 63, is now a porter for a wine and spirit merchant. Emily states that she has been married for 39 years and has had 11 children, two of which have died.  Only Florence, aged 16, is now living with them at 16, Hyde Close.

Where was Thomas?  He was by then aged 23 and working as a stable lad for racing horses in Chilcomb (just outside Winchester).

Thomas’ father Edward died in 1914, aged 69.

Thomas’ brother Albert was lost at sea when his ship Alcantara sank in February 1916.  The following month Thomas enlisted in the 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment and was given the regimental number 22302, but later attached to the 14th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment in the Machine Gun Corps.  The Winchester War Register states that he was wounded three times: in August 1916, and in July and December 1917 in Flanders.  He did not recover from his wounds and died on 2nd February 1918, aged 31, almost exactly two years after his brother Albert was lost at sea.

Thomas is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium.  During the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek (20 miles south-west of Dunkirk) was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields.  Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations.  The cemetery contains 9,901 First World War Commonwealth burials.

Albert’s widowed mother Emily died in the September quarter of 1918 aged 66, only months after Thomas’ death.

It is not known if Edward and James, brothers of Thomas and Albert, served in WW1.