Festival Season – Writers are no Exeption!

The HWS stand spent last weekend at the Winchester Writers’ Festival. The festival, if you’ve ever been, is one exhilarating time. Friday night is spent debating discussions, before thrashing out the open mike. See Damon’s blog spot of April 29 Ends – Bar the Shouting in the Terrace.

Back to back workshops run all day on the Saturday, stopping only for a short lunch. But one-to-one appointments booked with any one of up to thirty agents, editors, writers and publishers continue throughout – there is so much to think about. And it’s all nourishment for a writer’s mind, inspiration stimulating the imagination. Its bliss! The fresh faces that started the day are, by tea-time blushed with unspoken ideas, itching to get onto the page. That’s all before socialising once again at the sumptuous evening dinner.

This year a well-deserved memorial to our beloved Barbara Large, the founder of, not only the Hampshire Writers’ Society, but the Winchester Writers’ Festival too, took place in the on-campus chapel at six o’clock. It was somewhat satisfying to discover what a foodie Barbara actually was. Long live the Luscious Lasagnes!

The Winchester Writers’ festival can be credited with the creation of so many new friends and contacts. A writer’s life need not be so lonely after all. Travel, trips abroad and holidays were one mainstay of the HWS stand, intriguing stories were another and of course, vampires! Oh, and writing

All in all, twenty-five new names have been added to the HWS lists. Welcome all! We so hope to meet you again in September. In the meantime – stay right here!

Wordtamer Competition: Adjudicator, Judy Waite

Following on from her recent talk, ‘Creative Curiosity’, children’s author and University Lecturer, Judy Waite, set a competition to write the first 300 words of a middle-grade children’s novel, inspired by her ‘Wordtamer’ method of creativity.

The winners were:

First Place: Hush by Helen Adlam

At first I thought it had snowed.  The room was so still, like a thick blanket of quiet had been wrapped around the whole cottage.  I sat up in bed and lifted the corner of the curtain.

Nope. Darmoor was flat, boring and brown, same as it had been when we’d arrived yesterday.  Well, there was a hint of colour, just on the horizon.  Kind of purple, or maybe black?  Weird.  But that was it.

I grabbed my hoodie off the floor.  The room was cold, probably because no one had bothered to check out the heating last night.  We’d lit the log burner and played Monopoly in the little, dark sitting room, then, when my sister Jess flipped out because I wouldn’t give – yeah give – her Park Lane, I’d given up and gone to bed.  The whole evening was a disaster, not helped by dad freaking us out with this ‘lone-wolf-on-the-moor’ ghost story.  Which – I looked across the room, yup – which explained why Jess’s bed clearly hadn’t been slept in. She was scared of the dark at the best of times so she’d be in with mum and dad.

I went downstairs, hoping someone had got the bacon on.  Or at least the kettle.  Yet again, nope.  No sign of anything happening there.  The sitting room was just as I’d left it.  I mean, literally.  Which was odd.  The Monopoly board was upside down on the floor and the pieces were scattered around.

I was starting to feel a bit, I dunno, bothered.

‘Mum!’  I called out.  ‘Hey,  M .. U … M…’ but my voice seemed to soak into the thick stone walls.  ‘Dad?’  I tried.  ‘Anyone?’

Upstairs, the door to mum and dad’s room was closed.  The handle, cold, black, wrought iron, was stiff.  I pushed down hard and eventually the catch gave.  The door swung open.   Without even looking I knew the room would be empty.  The bed untouched.  And I was right.

Second Place: The Ghostly Hand by Cass Morgan

Lucy ran out the bathroom and screamed. ‘The ghostly hand. It’s back!’

‘Again?’ My insides froze.

The door banged. Joanne barged out. ‘Eeeeeeekkk!’

‘It reached through the mirror,’ said Lucy.

‘Blue and misty fingers,’ hissed Joanne.

‘What are we going to do?’ I asked.

A voice boomed behind. ‘WHAT is going on?’

‘Aaargh!’ we shrieked.

‘QUIET!’ bellowed Mr Edwards.

‘The ghostly hand is back,’ I whispered.

Fear flickered on his face, then he blinked. His I-am-the-headmaster eyes returned. ‘Ridiculous,’ he muttered.

‘It’s true,’ said Lucy.

‘I saw it, too,’ said Joanne.

‘Did you?’ he asked me.

‘Um, no.’

Lucy scowled. Joanne frowned. They looked at each other. ‘But I believe them,’ I said. And I had. Every time they’d seen it in that old mirror by the door.

‘The bathroom is out of bounds.’ Mr Edwards marched away, then marched back with a sign, a hammer and a bag of nails.

BANG-BANG-BANG.

DANGER. Keep Out! it read.

Lucy shivered. ‘I left my scarf in there.’

‘Share mine,’ said Joanne, huddling close.

‘Share mine, too,’ I said.

‘I don’t want to. You didn’t believe us.’

‘I do. I’m your friend.’

‘Prove it,’ whispered Lucy. ‘Get my scarf.’

I crept to the bathroom, heart pounding don’t-go-DON’T-GO and nudged open the door.
I am scared. I should not be here.

The mirror was clear, the scarf right underneath. I bent down and grabbed it.

HISSSSS.

My head shot up. The tap had turned on and water gushed out. I stood up and turned
it off. Something brushed against my hair. My breath froze. I darted forwards, and that something grabbed my wrist.

Blue fingers clutched me, feathers and pins on my skin. The mirror misted. The hand pulled me nearer and nearer.

H-e-l-p, I mouthed. A shout no-one would hear.

Third Place: So Heroic by Annie Gray

I didn’t know cows could run.

That was my first thought.

As Toby and I stood at the foot of the hill, watching tons of cow galumphing down to

mash us into the squishy Dorset grass, my second thought was “Cows shouldn’t be

allowed to run – they look well-awkward :  all rolling fat over knobbly legs”.

Finally,  the thought… I should run now…

I, not we.   NOT my most heroic moment – abandoning my eight-year-old brother!

Back at the campsite, Toby told Mum it was “all Layla’s fault” he’d ripped his jacket by scooting under the barbed wire fence in a panic.    She harped on about how we needed to “respect the countryside code”.   I didn’t dare tell her that  “Cow-gate” had happened in a field marked  “Keep Out”.   The cows had looked chilled-out.. so there couldn’t be anything child-hazardy there !

Next day, we visited The Village.    Our clapped-out car skittered  along the chalky track, set high over deep valleys on one side and hills on the other.   Mum used the word “majestic” LOTS …we weren’t  listening.  We were busy sign-spotting.

“Military Firing Range”

“Do not touch any military debris.  It may explode and kill you”

Toby’s eyes were round with excitement.

When we arrived in the tiny parking area, I tuned in to Mum who was giving us one of her history lectures, “The villagers had to leave in 1943 …never allowed to return.  It’s been a ghost village ever since. The public can only visit on certain days.”

I spotted crystal beads of sand littering the pavement and a sign pointed “To The Beach”.   But I turned uphill – past the row of roofless cottages – to the schoolhouse.    Inside, above rusting coat hooks, I found names :  Violet, Walter, Dorothy…

A strange sense of anticipation razored through me…

Highly Commended: Radio Flyer by Nigel Luck

That freedom when you first learn to ride a bike is a special moment. Neil was still waiting for this moment to arrive. His friends had talked of it, but they had practised with stabilizers. Neil’s Dad thought stabilisers a waste of time. After failed attempts to remain upright and several grazed knees, his Dad had decided, ‘What he needs is an incentive!’ With this in mind he had chosen the steepest hill he could find. On the left of the narrow path, picket fences with dangerously sharp looking points, to the right ….brambles, with the nastiest looking thorns Neil had ever seen. And now he was sat on the bike his Dad clutching the back of the seat.

‘You won’t let go will you?’ asked Neil shakily.

‘Of course not’ replied Dad, ‘I’ll be right behind you. Now peddle!’

The bike took off rapidly and picked up speed.

‘You’re doing it!’ shouted a voice from behind, a bit too far behind Neil thought. He turned to see his Dad still stood at the top of the hill. He panicked, the bike wobbled and the front wheel hit a bump launching it into the air, but Neil didn’t stop peddling and the bike didn’t come down. Instead it continued to rise above the roofs of the houses. Below he could see the Grover’s from number 25 staring up at him. The bike flew past the street and to the beech. With no idea how to stop as he headed out over the sea he had two thoughts, firstly, riding a bike was actually fun and secondly he wished he’d packed a snack.

Later that night as Neil’s Dad tried to explain to his wife why he’d launched their son from the top of a hill, the Grover’s were being interviewed on the news ‘We thought it was a plane at first’ they said. Which was exactly the moment Neil could no longer continue peddling and his bike plunged towards the sea.

Highly Commended: Remembering Lilliput by Mark Eyles

Tiny villagers cowered in their model village as the sea breeze whistled above. Peering from windows they saw a giant shadow moving by, Harry Pebbles the village attendant locking up for the night. Tommy Minstrel was sitting, banjo on his lap, waiting for the village to be closed, the visitors all gone. He glanced at the ‘no music’ sign, a trumpet with a red line slashed through it, and sighed. A giant face swung passed the nook window of The Gallows’ Basket Inn where Tommy was quietly sitting. The giant’s eye winked. There followed a loud clang and rattle of chains.

Sea breeze and silence.

With a collective outbreath the tiny villagers relaxed and started talking, finally able to safely leave their houses. The giants who loomed oppressively over them during the day were gone. The villagers came out of hiding into the twilight, no longer fearing the sounds they made. Tommy took up his banjo and started plucking The Lilliput Lament, a song of the faraway land their forebears came from, escaping an oppressive regime. Playing under the ‘no music’ sign, the first song of the evening always felt like an act of rebellion.

Though they had freedom in their village, they knew discovery was death. Their new giant neighbours did not understand them, apart from Harry who made sure the well was always full, the food store replenished.

Tommy struck up ‘I May Be Tiny, But I Am Free’. As villagers joined him in the Inn, Tommy’s eyes briefly glazed with tears. He clutched the banjo tightly, his voice rising above the stamp of dancing feet.

 

Writing Crime, Reporting Crime; Story Telling Is Innate In All Of Us.

“Being a writer is wonderful – it gives us carte blanche to get away with everything.” Simon Hall, seven times published novelist, former BBC News Correspondent of twenty years and tutor at the University of Cambridge, tells the gathered members and guests at Hampshire Writers’ Society’s Tuesday night meeting.

Simon loves to ‘people watch’; often from a spot in the pub in his beloved Cambridge. It is characters that drive his writing. Adam Breen and Dan Groves, even Rutherford the dog, the characters that he created for his TV Detective novels work together, not only literally, but together they form a crucial ‘relationship’.

Dan Groves, the TV reporter half of the duo appears to have everything. He also suffers with depression which he calls “the swamp”. Simon tells us that he has received many emails from men suffering the same affliction, saying thank you for giving the illness this coverage; it is good to know that they are not the only ones, the character of Dan is one that they can relate to.

Story telling is innate in all of us, he says. There’s no secret to writing a story, there may even be a formulaic way to do it and plenty of stories start at the end – reverse chronology. Simon once killed off a character; something for which he, his editor and publisher received much criticism – in reality, the character would have survived. But Simon argued the necessity that she be “killed off” – Dan, having had three successes, was in danger of succumbing to delusions of grandeur; he had to be taught a valuable life lesson.

So, here Simon imparts a piece of advice – “Let the story find you. Use your characters and your experiences.”

Research is done on-the-job. Simon recognises that it is important and suggests a researcher try to get as close to the original source as possible, because there you’ll often find an interesting fact to support your research. For his new book which is out in September this year (as yet it has no name – The Editor is a popular choice – although, Simon likes to have at least three words in the titles of his novels) he spent much time researching the city of Cambridge, which of course he greatly enjoyed.

“Writers are a species apart.” he says. It is a relationship, which is possible why everyone has their favourite authors – they can be relied on the to give ‘value for money’. As such, Simon follows four unbreakable rules which he calls the Four S’s

1                 He steers clear of science. Except for on the peripherals – a crime novel will always need a little of science.

2                 He skips on what he calls “slop”, we would understand slop as gore. The reason for this is that he feels he could not write anything worse than the reader can imagine. Most people will say that their favourite scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho is the shower scene. “You don’t actually see the murder.” Simon points out. The mind bridges the gap, your imagination does the rest.

3                 He avoids swearing, using it only to keep the dialogue real.

4                 He doesn’t do sex. His first attempt at writing a sex scene was laughed out of the draft by his editor.

“Humour is ubiquitous in our society”. he says. Humour is what keeps us going, it forms a bond between us. It is therefore omnipresent in Simon’s writing. “Everyone seems to think that the past is terrible and that the future is scary,” he tells us. Horrible things do go on and, as a reporter for the BBC, he has seen some of the worst. But, he truly believes that the majority of people are good.

Report by Lisa Nightingale

June 2019 Competition Results: Allie Spencer – Adjudicator

The June competition was judged by author, Allie Spencer.  The brief was to write a journalist’s report of a crime involving an unusual criminal.

And the winners were:

First Place:  Catastrophe in Chipping Clayton by Lynn Clement    

Second Place: Emma, 13, Exploding Golf Ball Assassin by Mark Eyles

Third Place: The Gentlebunny Thief by Jordan Ezekude      

Highly Commended: Joyce to the Rescue by Maggie Farran  

Highly Commended: Amazing Grace by David Lea       

june winners
June Competition Second Prize and Wordtamer Highly Commended, Mark Eyles; Wordtamer Winner, Helen Adlam; June Competition Winner, Lynn Clement; June Competition Highly Commended, Maggie Farran; and Wordtamer Third Place Winner, Annie Gray

   Photo by Alex Carter

First Place: Catastrophe in Chipping Clayton by          Lynn Clement  

‘I am a big fan of the absurd – as well being a big fan of over-hyped local news stories – and I particularly like it when the two come together. I also like cats. So this story about a cat-stealing nun called Frances Coppola was always going to appeal to me. However, from a literary point of view, what I liked about this was the quality of writing. The first paragraph neatly summed up the story, the second paragraph set up the crime, the third revealed the character of the perpetrator and the final paragraph gave us some ‘local colour’. There were also some terrible puns – CATastrophe for example – and some brilliant name choices for the cast of characters. A worthy winner.’

Sister Francis Copolla of the order of Saint Gordon and the Holy Martyrs was arrested yesterday and charged with the abduction of several cats. The cats, all ginger toms belonged to local vicars of the Parish of Lower Clayton.

The felines all went missing on Friday nights. Something that inspector Dick Husband of Dullchester police found intriguing, ‘I knew this was a serial abductor, after the third cat in a row went missing on a Friday night,’ he said to the press gathered outside Bodge Street police station.

Sister Francis is a well-known figure in the area. Riding her bike around the parish, she could often be seen with her robes tucked into her undergarments, presumably to stop them getting caught in her bicycle chain.

Local publican Harry Chambers remembers seeing her on one particular Friday night and he became suspicious. ‘I was just slopping out the drip trays into the roses, when I heard a repeated creak, that sounded like an un-oiled bicycle wheel, and when I looked up there was Sister Francis with something up her habit – well either that or she’d eaten too many pies. I shouted hello but she ignored me and rode off towards the abbey,’ he said.

Fortunately the cats have since been returned to their owners and all in good health; however the three local vicars affected by this catnapping episode are reportedly seeking damages from Sister Francis, as all three toms were returned minus certain body parts – namely their testicles. ‘I am devastated,’ said Father Gerry O’Goran, when asked how he felt about the operations the nun had supposedly performed. ‘She has robbed me of my right to choose.’  Father Patrick Callaghan was in tears, ‘I hope he had anaesthetic,’ he wailed.

Sister Francis was held at an undisclosed location overnight, in order to protect her from the frenzy of male protesters rallying on the station steps. She’ll appear in court on Friday.

Second Place:  Emma, 13, Exploding Golf Ball Assassin by Mark Eyles 

This was an amusing and well-written story. Succinct but still packing in huge amounts of information, it built up a picture of unintentional digital terrorism having real-life consequences: a teenage girl, thinking she is donating to an environmental campaign accidentally has President Trump murdered by an exploding golf all. It was well-structured – the story playing out as a proper narrative – and made me want to read to the end. Getting your reader to the end of your piece of writing is a prerequisite, whether it is news, poetry, scripts or a novel. Also, I am from Salisbury – so the final sentence about Russian involvement spoke to me in a particular way!’

The United States is seeking the extradition of thirteen year old Canadian Emma Smith to stand trial for her involvement in the assassination of the President of the United States. Emma Smith, an ordinary thirteen year old who likes playing football and computer games, has been linked to the untimely death of the President who was killed ten days ago by a polonium laced exploding golf ball at his Scottish golf course.

The FBI has not yet arrested the person who switched the President’s golf ball for the exploding one, but has traced the money paid for the assassination back to the Assassination Crowdfunder website, hidden in the murky Dark Web online world of organised crime and terrorism. Apparently Emma came across the website while doing research for a school project on environmental damage. She made a $2 contribution to ‘End the President’ from her father’s Bitcoin wallet which had been left open on the family computer.

Emma said: “I thought I was giving money to stop the President poisoning the planet.” The FBI claims that Emma’s $2 contribution to ‘End the President’ on Assassination Crowdfunder pushed that fund over a million dollars, triggering the successful assassination attempt. The FBI is calling on Emma to stand trial since it was her payment that switched the assassination from ‘pending’ to ‘fully-funded’. The FBI claims that technically Emma is the person who ordered the death of the President and, even though a minor, she can stand trial in a juvenile court.

The US Congress has signalled that unless Emma Smith is delivered to America there will be dire consequences. The Canadians are refusing to send Emma to the United States and have recalled their Ambassador. In a show of strength US troops are massing on the US/Canadian border. A Russian connection to the exploding golf ball is rumoured.

 

Third Place: The Gentlebunny Thief by Jordan Ezekude 

This was a lovely piece of writing. I was particularly drawn to the idea of a Robin Hood rabbit, righting the wrongs committed by others and then disappearing into the night through a cat-flap. He leaves behind ‘rabbit fur, rabbit tracks and a familiar calling card signed with the name ‘Armand Lapino’ – genius. This captured the feel of a news story and, to my mind, there was an awful lot of potential here to expand the story into something bigger – I look forward to the Adventures of Armand Lapino in due course.’

“Rabbit robs riches and returns them to the rural”, so say the tabloids. Sounds too good to be true, I know, but that’s what seems to be the case for the recent Falland Hall heist in County Durham. Last week, somebody snuck into the Georgian country house through the chimney, stole a handful of small antiques and escaped through the cat flap, so say the crime scene investigators. So how do we know the culprit isn’t Santa Claus? Because the perpetrator left behind three things: rabbit fur, rabbit tracks and a familiar calling card signed with the name ‘Armand Lapino’.

This notorious ‘gentlebunny thief’ has been causing an uproar in town after a month’s history of pickpocketing, burglary, trespassing and reckless inline skating. And people say he only steals things which were already stolen from others and returns them to their rightful owners. Three weeks ago, he reportedly sabotaged an armed robbery at a Middlesbrough jewellery store by stalking the robbers to their lair and taking back the stolen necklaces while they were asleep. And, just the other day, a schoolgirl told me that he helped her find her missing hamster, which she said was abducted by her school bully!

So far, nobody has ever photographed or captured this crafty rabbit. Many folks believe he’s just an urban myth or an elaborate façade, but there’s no physical evidence to identify Armand Lapino as a human thief posing as a rabbit: no human fingerprints, no human footprints, nothing! But, one thing for sure, the police are all the more eager to put him behind bars, whether in a prison cell or in a hutch. P.C. Stella Barcly stated yesterday “Whether Lapino’s really a rabbit or just another human criminal, the police will be ready to set the dogs on this stinker!”

 

Highly Commended: Joyce to the Rescue by

Maggie Farran   

‘I loved the idea of rescuing garden gnomes – particularly the thought that the gnomes then became ‘part of a large community of like-minded individuals.’ This was a nicely-written, amusing and original story. It could also, I think, be expanded into a very good short story.’

A large number of garden gnomes have been reported missing on the Isle of Wight. They have been disappearing from gardens all over the island for the last six months. Yesterday the police discovered them safe and sound in a large garden belonging to Mrs. Joyce Butterworth aged eighty-five of Gurnard. Mrs Butterworth is a keen collector of garden gnomes and has over a hundred displayed in her beautiful garden overlooking the sea.

‘I just wanted them to be happy.’ She stated when I interviewed her.

‘Some of the gnomes looked so lonely on their own and they were having to put up with living in tiny, often neglected gardens. I was just rescuing them and giving them a lovely lawn to stand on with a fabulous sea view. All the gnomes like being part of a large community of like-minded individuals.’

The gnomes are very varied in appearance from gnomes holding lanterns to gnomes with tiny fish at the end of their fishing rods. I asked Joyce if she had a favourite.

She looked appalled. ‘Of course not, I love them all equally. Although I have got a soft spot for all my rescue gnomes, the ones that have been neglected and come from poor homes.’

Joyce is a diminutive lady with long silver-grey hair and rosy cheeks. I asked her how she managed to transport the gnomes.

‘I take my wheel barrow in the back of my estate car. I always do my rescue work at night. I wrap them up in a blanket to keep them warm and drive home slowly. I find a lovely new spot on my lawn for them to live out their days in my gorgeous garden. I can see at once how happy they are to be among friends.’

 

Highly Commended: Amazing Grace by David Lea

‘This story concerned an elderly lady, Grace, staging a naked protest in the window of Debenhams in Winchester. It was original, funny and I loved the characters of Chip and Chop the Yorkshire terriers who prevent Grace from being arrested.’

I received a phone call on the morning of Tuesday 11th June suggesting that if the Chronicle were interested in some “real news” I should get myself to the front of Debenhams in Winchester High Street as soon as possible. I did so, but there was already a large crowd in front of the store’s display windows, and I was too late for a scoop. Almost everyone was taking photos on their mobile phones and many were pressed up against the glass attempting to take selfies. Grace Pottinger’s protest went viral and before the end of the day it had become international news, particularly when President Trump tweeted his enthusiastic endorsement of her actions:

“GO Grandma Grace! Strip back to the NAKD TRUTH about Amazon and

BASHFULL BEZOS!!!”

Grace refused to meet representatives of the national press but, having been released under investigation, she granted me an interview at her bungalow. Although we failed to make the deadline for last week’s edition, a world-wide exclusive report explaining her actions and her response to her new-found celebrity is to be found on pages 3, 4 and 5.

Grace, eighty-seven, spent an hour and a half in the store window, surrounded by placards and naked but for a thong. She was chained to an oversize deckchair that was part of a swimwear promotion while her two Jack Russell terriers, Chip and Chop, kept Debenham’s staff at bay. When police arrived, they were clearly unsure how to deal with an elderly, near-naked woman who had the vocal approval of a very large crowd and was being filmed by BBC South.

Mrs Pottinger’s stand against the demise of high street shopping was applauded by the Shopworkers’ Union, USDAW, but Debenhams declined to comment.

The Hampshire Chronicle is grateful for Grace’s support of local newspapers.

 

Book Fair – 11th June 2019 from 6pm

Published Members’ Book Fair

Tuesday 11th June from 6pm – 7.30pm 

followed by a talk at 7.30pm from 

Simon Hall

crime writer and BBC TV and Radio News Correspondent

Writing Crime, Reporting Crime

with special guest, Professor Joy Carter, DL, Vice Chancellor, University of Winchester

Programme finishes at approximately 9.30pm

The Stripe Building, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester

Come along and meet the  authors who are all members of the Hampshire Writers’ Society. Talk to them about their path to publication. Some will have their books available for sale and signing on the night.

Meet the Authors!

ROSIE TRAVERS

 Rosie pic

Rosie Travers grew up in Southampton and after juggling a career in local government with raising her family, she moved to Southern California with her husband in 2009. She began a blog about her life as an ex-pat wife which re-kindled a teenage desire to become a writer. Her first novel The Theatre of Dreams was published by Crooked Cat Books in August 2018 and her second Your Secret’s Safe With Me in February 2019.   Rosie takes inspiration from her local surroundings for her writing and both books are set in fictional locations along the south coast. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and enjoys entertaining her readers with stories populated by colourful characters, intrigue, romance and good dose of humour.

Website: www.rosietravers.com

Theatre of Dreams

Musical theatre actress Tara is down on her luck and in need of a job. When terminally ill octogenarian Kitty invites her to take over the running of her former dance academy in the old fashioned resort of Hookes Bay, Tara thinks she’s found her guardian angel. But it soon becomes very clear Kitty is being far from benevolent.

Too late Tara realises helping Kitty will signal the end of an already tarnished carer, unless she can pull of the performance of a lifetime.

The book is published by Crooked Cat Books and is available to order now on Amazon.co.uk.

Your Secret’s Safe With Me

Romantic Novelist Pearl makes a surprise announcement and sends daughter Becca’s organised life reeling into chaos. The pair quit their London home and move to a tight-knit sailing community on the south coast. As Pearl embraces her new life amongst local sailing fraternity, Becca receives a grim warning that if she wants to keep her family safe, she should keep them away. But why should Becca trust the man who has betrayed her before, the man who broke her heart, the man who thinks he knows all her secrets?

Rosie can be contacted via her website www.rosietravers.com 
and Twitter @RosieTravers


LISA NIGHTINGALE

IMG_20190527_094218[3065]Lisa Nightingale has been a member of the Hampshire Writers’ Society for over six years, an active committee member for more than three of those. Taking a back seat to concentrate on the writing of her book, she will publish her first novel, A Bite of the Past, on Thursday 6th June. In her spare time, and when not exploring the countryside and coastline with her family, she can be found writing the monthly Tuesday night report, chasing speakers for guest posts and updating the blog. Lisa lives in Fareham with her husband and three children who, thankfully, she says, are not just willing, but enthusiastic to join her in an assortment of “active research”. ‘I love writing, it wraps me in the company of countless varied, wonderful and inspirational characters, not to mention enigmatic settings and stirring history – both real and fictional!” Lisa says.

PrintA Bite of the Past

“Teddy, mein Schatzi, this the Wild West, isn’t it? Murder is what people do to each other here … no one will notice.”

Over one hundred years later, Teddy lives in a manor house on the south coast of England, knowing nothing but the senses, emotions and memories allowed to him by his only friend, László. Because László knows best…

A misplaced stumble into the empty stable sparks a memory that is fresh, fortuitous and precious; Teddy is hooked. He determines to escape László and recapture his place in time, his inheritance and his family. But love and his internal demon have plans of their own for him. The question is: can he control them?

Does he want to take another BITE OF THE PAST?


ANTHONY RIDGWAY

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure

thumbnail_Seaside Wizzy - front of pcard invitation RGB 200ppi

 

Anthony’s first book Wizzy the Animal Whisperer is out now as an audio book read by Sheila and David Suchet.

 


B.RANDOM

Gill HollandsA passion for sci-fi/ fantasy as a teenager led to B. Random writing a first book aged fourteen. After a family and a career in law and medicine, came a chance to return to her first love for writing. Her inspirations come from science, wildlife and nature, especially the sea. She has been a member of the Hampshire Writers’ Society since its inception.

The appeal of living in another world, escaping from the mundane, endures.  Delighting in the weird and wonderful, sharing glorious flights of imagination, she draws you into fantasy lands and darkest emotion. The style will take your breath away and make you smile. Expect a vivid roller-coaster of action, emotion and the unexpected. For her, the writer’s reward is to take other people into that brand new world and show them its magic. 

 


MAGGIE FARRAN, SALLY HOWARD, KAREN STEPHEN, CATHERINE GRIFFIN

The Chandlers Ford Writers

CFWriters

Secret Lives of Chandler’s Ford features short stories that are contemporary,historical and futuristic. The writers live and work locally. Each of the writers has their own individual style. However they wanted a theme to unify the collection. As they all love Chandler’s Ford it became apparent that there could be no better backdrop to their stories.

More Secret Lives of Chandlers Ford: A Second Collection of Short Stories: Volume 2

Maggie


DAMON L. WAKES

Damon L. Wakes holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester, and Ten Little Astronauts—the novella he submitted as the final project for that course—has since been accepted for publication by Unbound. It is due to be released sometime in 2018. He writes everything from humour to horror, and produces a brand new work of flash fiction every day during July each year. Damon also writes interactive fiction and games, and provided the story and dialogue for Game of the Year nominated virtual reality title Craft Keep VR.

Novels and novellas:

Ten Little Astronauts (Unbound):

https://unbound.com/books/ten-little-astronauts

 10littleastronautsTen Little Astronauts is   currently available  through retailers such as Amazon and Waterstones . I’ll have some for sale at the book fair even though strictly speaking that’ll still be a couple of days before the trade publication date.

 

 

The U.N. Owen is adrift in interstellar space. With no lights, no life support, no help for ten trillion miles, it seems as though things can’t get any worse. Then, they find a body.

Ten astronauts are woken from suspended animation to deal with a crisis on board their ship.

Selected from a crew of thousands, none of them knows any of the others: all they know is that one of their number is a murderer.

And until they work out who it is, none of them can go back to sleep.

 

Face of Glass: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/books/face-of-glass/

“Written in a gorgeous, lyrical style reminiscent of the best of oral storytelling tradition, Face of Glass digs deep into an expertly-constructed world an anthropologist could not fault. (I am an anthropologist, and I cannot fault it.) Wakes hits a mark somewhere between fantasy and myth, exploring identity and power and arrogance in the vein of the great heroic cycles.” ~MR Graham

Flash Fiction Anthologies:
OCR is Not the Only Font: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/books/ocr-is-not-the-only-font/

Red Herring: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/books/red-herring/

Bionic Punchline: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/bionic-punchline

Osiris Likes This: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/books/osiris-likes-this/

Robocopout: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/books/robocopout/

We All Saw It Coming: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/books/we-all-saw-it-coming/

Games and Interactive Fiction:
Spoiler Alert (Megafuzz, 2014): http://www.megafuzz.com/Spoiler-Alert/

Craft Keep VR (Strange Fire, 2017): http://store.steampowered.com/app/546350/Craft_Keep_VR/

Interactive Fiction: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/interactive/

Social Media:
Website: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordamonwakes

Twitter: @DamonWakes

Newsletter: https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/newsletter/


EVE PHILLIPS (E.M.PHILLIPS)

Eve Phillips photo

Eve has always written – from teenage angst-laden poetry to full length novels, but due to Dyslexia appeared unable to produce any kind of readable M/S until late (very late) in life, when she acquired a computer and with the wonderful aid of Spellcheck finally made it to print in 1999 with ‘A YEAR OUT OF TIME’, an account of her life as a twelve year old evacuee in WW2.

1998 she attended her first of many Winchester Writer’s Conference and had a ‘One to One’ with the late, great, Michael Legat. His interest in her storyline and following encouragement and support over many months resulted in her first novel, ‘AND ALL SHALL BE WELL’: the journey through life of a young boy, from an idyllic life on the Cornish coast, through WW2 and the aftermath of the Holocaust. Failing to find a UK Publisher this was first published in 2003 in the USA and was runner-up for the Society of Author’s Sagittarius Prize in the same year.

Committed to combining creative fiction with strong factual backgrounds, from WW2 to the present day, Eve has to date produced 10 books and is currently working on number 11.

She took the long hard road (and in 2003 it was a long hard road) to self-publishing with increasing success, now her books are sold world-wide on Amazon Kindle and Published in paperback by Amazon CreateSpace.

She enjoys giving talks, especially to schools, hosting workshops and writing Book Reviews for the Society of Women Writers & Journalists Magazine, ‘Woman Writer’.

With luck and a following wind Eve aims to beat Mary Wesley’s record of still writing at ninety. She can be found lurking around Literary Festivals and on her website:  http://www.EvePhillipsFineWW2Books.com

BOOKS:
A YEAR OUT OF TIME – Experiences of evacuation to a remote Worcestershire hamlet in WW2

AND ALL SHALL BE WELL – Book 1 OF A CORNISH WW2 SAGA. Francis Lindsey’s story is of friendships in war and peace; of courage and weakness, guilt and reparation, to the ultimate replenishment of his humanity in the aftermath of the holocaust spans 50 years.

MATHEW’S DAUGHTER – Book 2. Returning to her father’s Cornish Flower Farm from her wartime service in the WRAF, the fiery and uncompromising Caroline finds a number of problems standing in the way of her love for an enigmatic Frenchman.

THE CHANGING DAY – Book 3. A wartime romance between a shore-bound, single WREN and a married, sea-going Lieutenant seems unlikely to stand the test of time, while his estranged father and her rather flighty mother serve only to complicate matters.

A VERY PRIVATE ARRANGEMENT – WW2. Relationships and romance with a difference set in London, Paris, Rome and Berlin.

RETURN TO FALCON FIELD – From the US to the UK. An intertwining of two love stories told in flashbacks from the 1960’s to the 1940’s.

ALL IN THE END IS HARVEST – A sequel to Return to Falcon Field. One young woman’s search for her past leads her to an abandoned airfield, a wartime affair and its legacy of love.

A VERY ARTISTIC AFFAIR – The eternal triangle: 1960’s Infidelity in the Home Counties, Resolution in Devonshire and Retribution in New England.

THE TURNING POINT – The need to leave her beloved Cornish home and an unrequited love sends naïve twenty year old Cassandra in panic stricken flight into the unknown world of Millennium London.

FEET ON THE GROUND – Cornwall in Winter. A beautiful but neglected old house, an ex-soldier, a teenage son, a sinister man-servant, a recently jilted ex-PA, a large hairydog with few social graces…put them together and what do you have?


DAI HENLEY

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Dai retired in 2004 following the sale of his local businesses in Southampton and Winchester. He joined a Creative Writing class which he still attends weekly. He is also a regular visitor to the Hampshire Writers’ Society and the annual Winchester Writers’ Festival

He writes crime dramas with the themes of obsession, revenge and justice. He’s attended many murder trials at the Old Bailey. The capacity of ‘ordinary’ people who become motivated to carry out extraordinary acts never ceases to amaze him.

He received wonderful reviews and won several awards for his debut novel, Blazing Obsession: a silver medal from The Wishing Shelf and a Top Ten place in Bookbag’s self-published novels in 2014.

Reckless Obsession (a sequel but can also be read as a stand-alone novel) was published in March 2018.

RECKLESS OBSESSION

dai-henley

When DCI Flood’s wife is murdered in a hit-and-run attack by a vengeful gang, his life is torn apart. The police fail to discover the perpetrators. Two years later, the investigation is relegated to a cold case. Flood becomes obsessed, spending all his spare time hunting his wife’s killers, alienating friends and family. After witnessing another shocking murder, he is plunged into the menacing world of organised crime. His investigations unearth startling similarities to the cold case which puts his life in danger.

The best link to buy the book is to direct them to my website: http://www.daihenley.co.uk.

There is a direct link from there to Amazon,Waterstones Winchester and the publisher, New Generation Publishing.


JUSTIN STRAIN

Justin’s book The Secret of the Scarlet Ribbon was among the shortlist of five manuscripts in the Times Children’s Fiction Competition 2018

Justin Strain

The Secret of the Scarlet Ribbon: The year is 1832. Portsmouth is a hotbed of crime and villainy. Kitty Hawkins and her friend, Charlie Miller are led by a mysterious stranger, Samuel Peabody, into a murky web of intrigue. As the mystery unfolds, they realise the danger that they are in, and before long they are fighting for their lives.

‘The Secret of the Scarlet Ribbon’ is Justin’s first novel.  It is a fast-paced historical adventure story, aimed at 11-14 year-olds, full of dark secrets and conspiracy.

Justin grew up in Portsmouth and, after studying Law and Theology at Queens’ College, Cambridge, he returned to his home town while serving in the Royal Navy. He left the navy in 2001 to retrain as a physiotherapist, and continues to work in this role, alongside writing his books. After leaving the navy, Justin served as a volunteer with the Portsmouth Lifeboat between 2006 and 2017. Justin still lives in Portsmouth with his wife, Emma, and two children. When he is not working or writing he enjoys messing around on boats and playing the violin.

Scarlet Ribbon

‘The Secret of the Scarlet Ribbon’ Volume 1 (The Kitty Hawkins Adventures): is available from P&G Wells Booksellers, Winchester as well as on Amazon: Secret of the Scarlet Ribbon

Buy The Secret of the Scarlet Ribbon: Volume 1 (The Kitty Hawkins Adventures) by Mr Justin D R Strain (ISBN: 9780993280931) from Amazon’s Book Store. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders.

 


KAREN HAMILTON

 

The Perfect Girlfriend was published in March 2018 (in e-book, hardback and audio narrated by Anna Friel, the paperback due  in January 2019) and is published by Wildfire at Headline.

It’s a psychological thriller about a woman named Juliette who is very much in love with an airline pilot named Nate. She wants to marry him and has their whole future mapped out. There is a snag, however, which is that Nate dumped her six months ago. However, Juliette is a determined, damaged character and has a plan to win him back which involves…

Getting a job as a flight attendant for the same airline as him.

Using her old key and letting herself into his flat when he’s away.

Spying on him using social media and installing a spy app on his phone.

And this is the just the beginning…

What I did with the character was I experimented to see how far someone would go when they operated outside normal social boundaries.

I worked as a flight attendant for many years before concentrating on my writing. I studied creative writing classes online, locally and in London. I’ve been a member of the Hampshire Writers Society for a few years now and I love the way it brings people together who are passionate about writing.

The Perfect Girlfriend is already out in France and Germany and will soon be released in Italy. It will be published in the States and Canada early next year. It will continue to be published throughout this year in several more countries around the world.

Follow this link to visit Karen’s website


ANNE WAN

thumbnail_Headshot - Anne Wan

 

Anne began writing six years ago when her middle son became ill. As he convalesced she helped him transform an idea that he had, into a book. This ignited her enthusiasm for writing stories for children. She started writing picture books as a hobby and went on to study creative writing with Barbara Large. Anne is passionate about inspiring children as readers and writers. She enjoys giving talks, craft and storytelling sessions in schools, libraries, and Brownie groups.

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Having completed the Snow Globe trilogy, I am excited to announce the release of my debut picture book Manners Fit for the Queen. In this humorous story, Hector causes chaos with his terrible table manners. His sister, Isobel, has found her own way to cope with the mess. But how will she cope when they are both invited to a tea party with the Queen?

 

 

 

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Secrets of the Snow Globe – Menacing Magic is the finale to my ‘Secrets in the Snow Globe’ series. Chaos rages in the world inside the snow globe following the theft of seven, magical, diamond snowflakes. In a race against time, Louisa and her brother, Jack, shrink into the globe and embark on a perilous journey to catch the thief. Can they retrieve thenowflakes before the snow globe world is destroyed?

Snow Globe VanishingSecrets of the Snow Globe – Vanishing Voices

Can they succeed in their quest to help their new friends, and find a way back to Grandma’s house? A captivating adventure story of courage and friendship for 7-9 yrs. In a land of magic, snow, and secrets Louisa and her brother, Jack, are flung into a dangerous mountain adventure when they shrink into their Grandma’s snow globe.

 

 

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Secrets of the Snow Globe  – Shooting Star

How much does Grandma know about the snow globe’s magic? Louisa and her brother, Jack, are determined to discover the truth. In this sequel to, Secrets of the Snow Globe – Vanishing Voices, Grandma’s story is revealed. But how much should she tell? After all, some secrets are best left untold…

Are you ready for the magic?

 

You can purchase the books from http://anne-wan.com/


MARTIN KYRLE

Martin’s books:

Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway

 

Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway, 290pp, 220 photos, 3 maps.  Hardback.  £14.95

Read the Allison Symes’ interview with Martin Kyrle about the writing of this book and of his adventures on the Trans-Siberian Railway in the Chandlers Ford Today blog.

Recently published: Jottings from Russia and the Baltic States.  Part 1: Russia and Estonia.  160pp 120 photos, 2 maps.  Paperback.  £9.95

 


DAVID BRUCE

Caird Publications Poster [536357]

Aviation novels by David Bruce available on Amazon Kindle

Finishing School

Night of the Whirlwind

Falcon

Scorpion Force

The Prototypes


JUDE HAYLAND

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JUDE HAYLAND is a teacher and writer who spent over 25 years writing commercial short stories for women’s magazines (under the name Judith Wilson) both in the UK and internationally.  She has been a runner-up in the Bridport Short Story competition.

Graduating from Winchester University’s CRITICAL AND CREATIVE WRITING M.A. course with DISTINCTION ten years ago, she has spent the past decade teaching creative writing, running workshops and tutoring English and Drama in addition to writing.   Born and brought up in London, she has lived in Winchester for 25 years, but also spends a great deal of time at a family house in North West Crete.

WRITING:

My novel, COUNTING THE WAYS, published by Matador in 2017, is set in the 1980s and spans several locations including London, Oxford, remote Wales and a fictitious Greek island.   Literary/commercial crossover/book group fiction, it explores the complexities of family relationships, separation, loss and love over two generations.  My next novel, THE LEGACY OF MR JARVIS, is due for publication in autumn 2019.   A dual timeline, the story is set in both late 1960s/early 70s as well as in the early 2000s.   I am currently working on my third novel.

Website:  http://www.judehayland.co.uk


T.J.HOBBS

TJHObbsI have been writing for nearly thirty years even though I was discouraged at school because I was dyslexic, although in the sixties no one had heard of Dyslexia!

Twenty years later I was told by my spirit guides that I should write the story that I had been thinking about but at first I dismissed this as impossible but they kept nagging me until I started writing and I haven’t stop since.

I currently have 3 published novels; A day trip to Heaven (which came second in the Kindred Spirit writers competition) Karma Neural and the latest novel is A Skylark Sings. All of them have a spiritual theme such as past lives or healing.

 I have also written children’s books, a SF novel for teens, SF space series and many short stories which I enter into competitions. My SF series is with Angry Robot now and I am hoping it will get accepted by them.

I live in North Hampshire and am self employed which gives me time to write but no sick pay or holiday pay. I love to travel and will be off to Croatia soon. I have ridden horses all my life but at the moment I ride friends as I cannot afford to own one right now. I love all animals and wildlife which I combine with a love of photography. I do many different crafts such as beading, stained glass windows and walking stick making and want to do some watercolour art classes soon. I also teach and practise Tai-Chi and go ballroom dancing every week.

My hope is to one day making my living from my writing so I continue to write and hopefully improve all the time. I am currently writing the tenth novel of my Solar Star SF series and more short stories for competitions.

Visit her website for more information and stories; http://www.tjhobbs.co.uk.

A Skylark Sings[2589]A Skylark Sings

A saboteur is loose on the film set of the WW1 BBC production of the book “A Skylark Sings.” The motive is obvious from the start but the perpetrator is not so easily identified and the saboteur baits the police before ramping up the number and severity of incidents putting life’s at risk.

After actor Alex Ward and his girlfriend Elisabeth Ireland saves the live of the executive producer from his car after his break’s are cut, they become the targets for the saboteur fury.

Lives lived in 1916 are now brought back together for good or ill as the past catches up with the present but who will survive the encounter this time around.

HeavenDay Trips to Heaven

What is Heaven really like? This novel will help you find out! Ethan is learning the ropes as a spiritual guide and not finding it at all easy, despite the help of his lovely mentor Danielle and the Archangel Haniel. He is allowed to bring a few deserving souls from Earth to Heaven for a preview of the afterlife and it changes them all. This is a charming book full of gentle humour and spiritual wisdom. It is a compassionate account of the lessons each one of us needs to learn during our earthly journeys; letting go of pain, discovering our life’s purpose and caring for the planet.

Karma NeutralKarma Neutral 

This is T. J. Hobbs second novel and concerns a successful business man, James Wiley, who is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

He has to reassess his life so far and after talking with his reflexologist he decided to try to becoming Karma Neutral before he dies. In the process he learns a lot about himself and Karma from Tara, a Karma therapist. James realizes he should have taken another path in this life time but like many of us circumstances pushed him away from it but now he has the chance to find his true calling. On the way to Karma Neutrality he finds love and many other surprise.

It is a inspiring and heart-warming novel with two great surprises near the end that take the breathe away. A novel that deserves to be widely read and enjoyed as a spiritual masterpiece.


MARION DANTE

sEARCHING FOR lOVESearching for Love reveals convent life during the 1970s as seen through the eyes of Frankie, an innocent young postulant and her friend, Margaret, who form a close relationship, which is discouraged by the nuns. Readers are offered glimpses of harsh practices, contrasted with comic interludes, that trace Frankie’s gradual disillusionment as she struggles with her dilemma: love, or the church?

’Followers of the television series, Call the Midwife,
will enjoy this compelling and unusual story
Barbara Large MBE

a lOVE aS sTRONG

 

A Love as Strong is a tender sequel to Searching for Love that reveals Frankie’s new life as a teacher after she left the convent. Readers will enjoy reading her naive encounters as she searches for a loving partner. This exceptional book traces the transition of the Frankie, as she explores her new life and her encounters with potential suitors. Readers will revel in the final chapters as she forms a cherished relationship with the man of her dreams.

 

 

 

‘Enjoyable, well written and entertaining’, Poolbeg Press.


CHERYL BUTLER

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Cheryl Butler has a PhD in history and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, her writing career spans academic publications for the Southampton Records Series and Hampshire Papers, to history publications on the Tudor and Spa periods as well as being writer-director of the Sarah Siddons Fan Club Theatre Company. Her first novel was inspired by her PhD research which focused on 16th century documents in the Southampton Archives. It made her think about what it would have been like to live during the turbulent events of the later years of Elizabeth I.

 

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JANE AUSTEN & SOUTHAMPTON SPA

This publication looks afresh at Jane Austen’s time in Southampton. Using themes from Jane’s novels and her experiences in Southampton recorded in her letters, this book considers the town’s history as a bathing resort and spa.  Balls, the Militia, Gothic Romanticism, Scandal, Friends, Acquaintances & The Southampton Austens all appear in this lavishly illustrated publication.

Rrp£8

THEATRE OF THE WORLD

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Drawn from original source material The Theatre of the World is an epic historical novel woven around real events, places and people and is inspired by the author’s research into the Spanish Armada and the impact on the lives of the people of Southampton. In 1588: England has never seen such peril – as sea, the formidable Spanish fleet prepares to invade and on land rumours, mistrust and fear are rife. For Richard Mudford, sometime privateer, artillery man and town sergeant, these are momentous times when a clever man without too many scruples can make a name and a fortune. Mudford begins his journey as an ally of the ruthless merchant John Crooke, but others are relentless in trying to bring him to disaster. In an attempt to boost his burgeoning career he rejects the woman he truly loves,and instead makes an alliance with the French Sohier family. His marriage almost costs him his life and he has no choice but to ally himself to Francis Drake and the ambitious young Earl of Essex, to thread his way through the murky politics of Queen Elizabeth’s sunset days.

RRP£10

The books can be purchased from Cheryl  via her website www.cherylbutler.co.uk


 

 

 

Stevyn Colgan and Claire Gradidge at Hampshire Writers’ Society May 2019

Special Guest: Claire Gradidge

The evening opened with special guest and fellow HWS member, Claire Gradidge, revealing her ‘surprising journey’ to becoming winner of Richard & Judy’s ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition, supported by WHSmith. Open only to first-time unpublished writers, the competition was adjudicated by Richard & Judy alongside employees of Bonnier Publishing and agents at Furniss Lawton. The prize being a £30,000 world rights publishing deal from Bonnier Zaffre and specialist advice from literary agency Furniss Lawton.

Claire Gradidge

“I’ve spent 30 years trying with more rejections that I care to count, entered numerous competitions and the only one I won was a ‘write a postcard’ competition when I won £8, which I had to spend on a celebratory round with my friends.”

Claire spoke with joviality, her excitement and astonishment at her win shining throughout. Retired from nursing she studied for an undergraduate and PHD in creative writing, by the end of which she had written an historical crime novel she was proud of.
Entry to the competition was free so with nothing to lose Claire sent off her 10,000 words and synopsis and forgot about it. “I felt utter shock when I made the 2018 shortlist of five authors. I thought, I better make the most of the good news while it lasts. So I was dumbfounded in January when they announced I’d won.”

“I remember being astounded I’d won for the longest time. I would travel to London to meet my agent and publisher and would just get the giggles.”

The journey had just begun when Claire’s editor suggested changing the title from Home to Roost to The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox, “I happily agreed- they know what’s going to make the book sell.”

The novel was line edited and I learned so many new things about my writing and how to improve it, for example how often I use the word ‘just’.

Claire occasionally struggled with removing lines they felt didn’t work, but complied with the changes. “Interestingly, they were asking me to shorten it by applying more telling” which seemed extraordinary to Claire, given as writers we’re always told to show not tell.

The novel has now been sent off to famous authors to read in the hope they will endorse Claire’s novel.

Claire left the audience with two simple words of advice: “Enter competitions.”
Set to be published on 8th August 2019, The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox is about a woman’s return to her home town of Romsey for the first time in 26 years where she discovers a family secret.

Claire will also be speaking at the Winchester Discovery Centre on 5 July and the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival between 18 and 21 July 2019.
.

Main Speaker: Stevyn Colgan – An Englishman’s Home is his Cackle

“It’s a brilliant felling when you get that first book deal. My first deal was in 2007 with Pan Macmillan with my book Joined-Up Thinking.”

Previous to this, Stevyn was a police officer which led him to write his book One Step Ahead, as well as other police-focused titles.

Stevyn has been writing books for ten years now, with 13 on his computer at home awaiting the perfecting process. Additionally, Stevyn spent over a decade as one of the elves who research and write script for the multi-award winning BBC TV series QI: “There would be two hours of filming so that when all the swearing, long pauses, people just sitting thinking, comments inviting legal action were removed, what remained was a 30 minutes comedy panel show.”

“I’ve always been fascinated by comedy. I love writing jokes and comic novels, and have always been a huge fan of classic murder mystery.”

During his policing days, Stevyn was involved in many homicide scenes, “But unlike in books and on TV, it’s actually very businesslike and dull. There’s processes and paperwork to complete.”

Stevyn Colgan

Years ago, working at ‘Murder HQ’, more officially known as the Major Crime Team, “There was no emotional involvement. It was just a day job.”

Stevyn told a story of how the seed for his book Murder to Die For was planted. On his way to a comic convention he saw two different groups of Batman super fans dressed up. One group had chosen the Tim Burton Batman(all black) and the other, the Adam West Batman(grey with blue pants, cape and mask). Stevyn chuckled to himself while the two groups stole glances at each other and criticised the other group’s costume choice. Stevyn then questioned what would happen if the worlds of classic detective fiction – which he loved – and real-life homicide investigation – which he knew well – came crashing together. And if he used the Batman superfans as detective superfans, there could be hilarious happenings and, occasionally, messy results.

In the first two decades of the 21st century, comic writers started dying out. Between the time of getting his book deal and the time of getting the book published, the whole industry changed. His agent loved the book, but no publisher wanted it. Great comments were received, but no contracts were given because publishers didn’t know, and still don’t know, where to place comedy in the market. The market had gone off comedy.
So where’s all the comedy gone? People say it’s down to mobile phones but people read on their phones and kindles. But technology has made a difference.

The early 2000s saw new levels of competition from the supermarkets and online retailers impacting all specialist booksellers and in particular those with insufficient scale to compete on equal terms. Ottakar’s book store was bought out by Waterstones in 2006; Borders and Books Etc. went into administration in 2009. Books were moving to MP3 format. Publishers were only taking on ‘dead certs’.

“I was pushed aside with many others, and celebrities were brought forward; In 2011 Pippa Middleton was offered £400,000 to write a party planning book; In 2012 the Britain’s Got Talent dog Pudsey and owner Ashleigh were offered £350,000 for his autobiography.”

These changes put a halt on the ordinary Joe getting their books published.
Amazon then came and said ‘publish with us’. And while it’s easy to get published with Amazon, it’s difficult to get noticed. Digital publishing is publishing democratised, but there’s no advances and no quality control.

So Stevyn took his book to Unbound, a subscription publisher with a selection process – best of both worlds – online and traditional. Stevyn now has a few books published through Unbound, including, but not limited to: A Murder to Die For and The Diabolical Club.

“We have to get more comedy out there. Comedy is such a broad canvas. One hundred people can read the same thing and only three people will like it. Publishers are happy to advertise a book as funny to sell more copies, yet publishers don’t want funny books. Romantic comedies still do well, but other comedy takes a while to bed in.”

“Keep submitting comedy. Even if you don’t get published, you must continue to write because that’s your passion. If it fills you with joy and excitement, that’s what it’s all about. And that’s what will win through!”

Event images by Alex Carter, Lexica Films

May 2019 Competition Results: Stevyn Colgan – Adjudicator

The May competition was judged by author, artist and speaker, Stevyn Colgan.  The brief was to write a scene for a farcical murder mystery in 300 words.

And the winners were:

First Place:  By Any Other Name by David Lea    

Second Place: Death by Yoga by Mark Eyles

Third Place: Doll Parts by Alex Carter     

Highly Commended: Aunt Gertrude by Maggie Farran  

Highly Commended: Who Fed the Pigs? by Lynn Clement      

May Comp

Highly commended, Maggie Farran; third place, Alex Carter;  winner, David Lea; and second place, Mark Eyles.

  Photo by Alex Carter

First Place: By Any Other Name by David Lea

‘Grabs you in the first paragraph and the character of the narrator is immediately created by their speech patterns.  Intrigued by the whole primogeniture business and how it relates to trans people too – not thought about that before.  It opens up some fascinating discussion to come.  I wanted more.’

As photographer for the Saxonford Chronicle or ‘Chronic’, I am often called to social events that induce states of such ineffable boredom as to qualify as near-death experiences and they require considerable self-discipline and copious amounts of alcohol if I am to maintain anything resembling an equilibrium. However, the accession of Ronnie Hardley-Fulsome, scion of the Fulsome family and heir to the Hardley millions, was unusual in that the protagonist experienced  the real thing – literal, terminal and absolute death. And what’s more, it occurred at the precise moment when I pressed the button of my Nikon D500 SLR digital camera and captured the whole scene for posterity.

The entire Hardley-Fulsome family was on the podium in the rose garden and many had travelled the globe to be present at the occasion. But they weren’t all there to wish Ronnie well: the rules of primogeniture require that the estate pass into the hands of the eldest male and Ronnie’s right to inherit had been hotly contested ever since she transitioned from Ronald to Veronica. This and the death of Ronnie’s father, Wolfgang, had left his/her mother’s mind untethered, and although Lady Laetitia Hardley-Fulsome did have periods of comparative lucidity this was not one of them: when someone handed her a blood-red rose, she presented it to Ronnie with a flourish, curtsied to the crowd and fell off the rostrum.

Ronnie raised the bloom rather theatrically to her/his nose and inhaled deeply. Incidentally, this was a nose that had been broken many years before in a boxing ring at Radclyffe public school and could be best described as ‘wonky’.  Her heavy chin quivered for a moment and then she collapsed, her knee length pencil skirt rising up her substantial thighs and her fascinator waving gently above her tumbling curls.

 

Second Place: Death by Yoga by Mark Eyles  

Nice to see a page or two of screenplay in the competition.  I liked the sudden comic shift from serene to sweary when Esmeralda is brought down to Earth by the sight of the body and how she then climbs back into her normal speech patterns.  Good characterisation.’ 

INT. YOGA STUDIO – DAY

Morning sunlight streams into a wood panelled room in a stately home. Yoga mats laid out. At one end an elderly moustachioed gentleman, BARTHOLOMEW, in too short shorts and tie dyed T-shirt is seated in Buddha posture on a yoga mat. A yoga strap tight round his neck and attached to a wall lamp keeps him upright. He is dead.

ESMERALDA, mid 40s, and GUY, mid 20s, enter.

ESMERALDA

…some chakra alignment after lunch.

GUY

Esmie.

ESMERALDA

Then a fluid flow to channel our inner goddess. You have been massaging your inner goddess Guy?

GUY

Esmie. Look…

ESMERALDA

You might find it easier with soft silver yoga balls? I showed you in yesterday’s ‘Rolling my way to happiness’ workshop.

GUY

Esmie! Is Bart all right?

Esmeralda finally spots the body.

ESMERALDA

Fuck me sideways!

GUY

What?

ESMERALDA

Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Stupid, stupid cock. Fuck.

GUY

He’s not OK is he? Is he? Should we do mouth to mouth?

ESMERALDA

Yeah. If you think that will help. He sure as fuck looks like he’s dead. What kind of pervy shit was he up to?

GUY

Maybe he was just being mindful?

ESMERALDA

Mindful my arse. Help me with these mats. Untie that belt. The others will be here in five minutes. We have to cover him up.

GUY

What?

ESMERALDA

Guy, we have to think about the others. You wouldn’t want them to see this would you? Imagine how it would affect their yin yang balance. We’ll just cover up poor Bartholomew and move the body later after morning class. It’s what he would have wanted. He would not have wanted to interfere with my ‘Exploring my inner love’ retreat.

GUY

But he’s dead!

ESMERALDA

Don’t say dead. Bartholomew’s spirit has just taken the next step on its cosmic journey. Maybe this was his way of exploring his inner love.

 

Third Place: Doll Parts by Alex Carter

Now, here’s a great set-up; murder-mystery in Toyland.  Reminiscent of Jasper Fford’s Nursery Crime books, but very different and what a great cast of characters are available!  Liked the ‘arms dealer’ gag that sets the tone from the off.  Good title, too.’

Teddy rapped a soft paw on the red wooden box.

“Come on out, Jack. I know you’re in there.”

He turned the crank and the lid sprang open. Jack’s long torso slunk up out of it. “Whaddaya want? I ain’t done nothin’.”

“The name’s Teddy Boyes, P.I. – I’m here about the murder of Joseph Mann.”

“Ol’ Joe Mann?” Jack shook his head slowly, jingling the bells on his hat. “The doll?”

“He preferred the term ‘action figure’.”

“Whatever.” Jack waved his springy hand, and sunk down into his box. “Nothin’ to do with me.”

Teddy stuck his paw in the box before it could shut, and lifted. “Not so fast. I know what folks call you. Jack the Knife.”

“Yeah, so?” Jack peered out of the dark box. “No knives on me.”

“Poor Joe was killed with a foam dart. Popped his head clean off.”

“What a way to go. If I were you, I’d ask his wife.”

“Sandy? Been there, done that.” Teddy straightened his tie, feeling flustered. “I’d rather follow leads, like the dart. And you, pal, you’re Toyland’s most notorious arms dealer.”

“Oh, no no no.” Jack sprung up again. “Ya got this all wrong. I deal arms, not arms.”

“Eh?”

“Doll arms – doll legs, too,” Jack explained. “Ya know, spare parts, in case dolls—sorry, action figures—lose their own.”

“So… you don’t sell foam dart guns? Or plastic retractable knives?”

“Nah, Mistah Boyes. Unless, of course, you want to replace yer furry fists with a coupla scissor-hands.”

“Then where’d the foam darts come from?” Teddy muttered to himself.

“Ya checked in with the Toyland Locos recently?” asked Jack.

“The train set? They’re our public transport.”

“Public transport with faces. Toy train gangsters, the lot of ‘em. I’d keep an eye on their boss. He hates articulated dolls.”

“Why’s that?”

“Oh man, ya don’t know the Loco godfather? Rollo Polly. No arms, no legs, just one big sphere. He’s yer killer fer sure.”

 

Highly Commended: Aunt Gertrude by Maggie Farran

Straight into the plot, no messing about.  Nice that someone who looks like a chocolate is supposed to die by eating chocolates.  Some nice comic touches.’

I had a hasty look at the congregation to see if Aunt Gertrude had arrived. I saw her straight away in the second pew from the front. She was wearing a purple hat and matching velvet coat. She looked like a quality street chocolate. You know the one with the toffee and nut in the middle.  She was singing loudly from her hymnal. I buttoned up my coat and tottered on my high heels up to the second pew and stood next to her. She gave a slight frown and handed me a hymn book. I found my place and tried to outdo my Aunt’s singing. Then we all sat down. Aunt Gertrude patted me on the shoulder and whispered

“Glad you could come, Clara, lovely singing dear.” I forced my lips into something resembling a smile and lied blatantly, “Great to be here, Aunty. I’m so looking forward to the weekend.” Well if I’m honest I was half looking forward to it. This was the weekend that I had planned to murder her. I’d been planning it for months. I’d brought her a present of a beautiful box of chocolates, which just happened to have lightly poisoned soft centres. Old Gertie could never resist a chocolate and could demolish a box in an evening.

I’m her only relative and she adores me. She’s left me her smart London flat and a few thousands in the bank too. I unpack after church and join Gertie in the sitting room for a glass of wine. I’m quite hoarse after all that hearty singing. I give her the box of chocolates in their shiny black box tied with a purple velvet ribbon.

‘Thanks, Clare, that’s so kind, bit I’m not allowed chocolates any more. I’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes.’

 

Highly Commended: Who Fed the Pigs? by 

Lynn Clement  

‘Oh, the joy in those last few lines!  Two gravediggers and a hitman and the hitman has killed the wrong person.  That’s a great set-up for a comic story.’

‘Ok Dave. Job well done,’ said Bert Knobbler to his grave digging partner.

‘I’m not sure he’ll fit in, Bert.’

‘Yeah, he’s not so tall, is he?’

‘No, Bert but he’s plenty wide.’

‘We’ll just squeeze him in then, Dave.’

Dave and Bert were just lighting celebratory cigarettes when a very rotund man turned up.

‘Hello Hodges. We were just talking about you,’ said Dave. Behind Hodges’ back Bert was using his arms to size him up. He blew out his cheeks when he realised that Hodges was indeed a wide man.

‘What you doing back there Bert Knobbler? ‘Hodges said over his shoulder. Bert picked up his spade from its repose by the graveside.

‘Just firming the edges round this grave. We don’t want you falling in Hodges. – Well not yet,’ he added, sotto voce.

‘Right, you two I’ve come for my pay off. I’ve done the deed, so stump up the dosh.’ Hodges held out his chubby hand towards Dave.

‘How do I know you’ve done it?’ asked Dave sceptically. ‘For all I know my wife might be walking around Primarni as we speak and I can’t afford to have her spend any more money that I haven’t got.’

‘It’s ok,’ reassured Hodges. ‘She’s gone. We had a trip to the pig farm, where unfortunately she had a little accident and the pigs had a feast.’

‘Blimey Hodges,’ said Bert. ‘That’s pretty gruesome. I’m glad I love my wife.’

Hodges turned to face Bert, who hid the spade behind his back. ‘Yeah, she’s lovely your wife, Bert,’ he leered. ‘All that lovely red hair. Is it natural?’

Bert became angry and lifted the spade.

‘Wooah Bert,’ said Dave holding up his hand.

‘But I thought …’ said Bert.

‘Yeah – but your wife hasn’t got red hair, Bert – my Delores has.’

‘Ah, true,’ he said softening. ‘My Jeannie’s a platinum blonde.’

‘Yours is the platinum blonde!’ gulped Hodges backing away from the two men. ‘Then who…’

Ends – Bar the Shouting in the Terrace

Author Damon L Wakes

The Winchester Writers’ Festival sees visitors from all over the world drawn to its weekend of talks, workshops, and one-to-one meetings, and they pay a pretty penny to be there. But did you know that some portions of the Festival are open to the public 100% free?

Turn up on Friday 14th June, and you’ll be able to enjoy the full range of evening events on offer, including an open mic where you’ll have the chance to hear the work of local authors, as well as those from farther afield. And if you’re feeling up to it, you can even share something of your own!

The open mic runs from 21:00 to 23:00 in the Terrace Bar Lounge, and is perhaps the best opportunity to meet like-minded writers at the Festival. After all, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to spontaneously read out their work over lunch! It’s also a particularly good chance to practice reading in front of an audience: an essential skill for book launches and other author events.

These free evening events are perfect for anyone already living nearby, offering a taste of the Festival’s activities without any of the cost. If you’d like to read at the open mic, be sure to sign up as early as possible on the day as slots fill up fast. For those living in Winchester, it may be worth visiting the Stripe Building foyer to get your name down in the morning (and perhaps making use of the trip to look around the book fair while you’re there) so that you’re sure of a slot when you return. For those making a journey in, that likely wouldn’t be practical but you can still get in ahead of everyone who signs up at the start of the open mic by putting your name on the sheet before the other evening events.

The Stripe Lecture Theatre

The other free offerings on Friday 14th are a panel on writing for children and young adults (in the Stripe Lecture Theatre) and a talk by three Salt authors celebrating the publisher’s 20th anniversary (in the Stripe Auditorium). Both these events start at 19:45, so you’ll have to pick your favourite!

If you find you enjoy the Winchester Writers’ Festival open mic, you may also be interested in Poetry Platform, a similar event that runs on the first Tuesday of every month, 20:30 at The Railway Inn. Outside of Winchester, your other open mic options are Write Side of the Tracks (7pm on the third Tuesday of every month at Steam Town Brew Co in Eastleigh) and Write a Note (7pm on the last Thursday of every month at Caskaway, Southampton). These are typically billed as “poetry nights,” but they’re equally welcoming to prose writers and every bit as supportive as the Winchester Writers’ Festival.

Post by Damon L. Wakes

https://damonwakes.wordpress.com/

Damon L. Wakes is the author of Ten Little Astronauts, Face of Glass, and over 200 works of flash fiction, which can be heard at events across the UK.

 

Going Incognito, a Tuesday Night Talk by novelist, TV Writer and Producer, Neil Arksey

 

Like all of us, Neil Arksey, novelist of mid-grade, YA and now dark adult crime, TV head writer, series producer and screenwriter, is in awe of Barbara Large’s work in founding the Winchester Writers’ Festival and the Hampshire Writers’ Society.

A closet writer for years, Neil, the only Neil of his kind was successful in acting. But after falling asleep whilst leaning on a column at Shakespeare’s Globe in the guise of Brutus, the fault of heavily overpowering pain killers he assures us, only to be awoken by a prod from Cassius, he decided a ‘sitting job,’ was needed. That was when Neil turned to writing.

Short stories were his choice to start with. One such story he sent to his nephew, Tom. On Tom’s advice, Neil submitted it to Random House. Here, he gave us some advice not to take – borrowing a book from his niece’s shelf, he copied the publisher’s address onto an envelope, stuffed the ice-cream stained copy of the story in, along with a post-it note saying: “My nephew liked this, you might too,” and sent it to Random House.

The problem was that Neil had unwittingly stereotyped himself. The view of his publisher was: “We own you and you are a brand.” More stories like Brooksie, Neil’s first novel, was what they wanted. MacB, Neil’s third book which was a slight change was rejected.

At this point he was feeling a little vulnerable. Neil took the advice of a fellow author and sought out a writer’s community. It was at an event held by Penguin, where he’d gone to hear one of his favourite authors, Melvin Burgess, speak, that he networked and found a home for MacB.

‘How hard is it to be a writer?’ Neil asked not just the present members and guests of the Hampshire Writers’ Society, but of himself, when his novel writing still failed to pay the bills.

Taking on writing for TV, Neil became a head writer. After a while he found that his own personal writing had taken a back seat; this was not what he wanted for his career. Teaching came next. A smattering of hours gave him enough to live on and he got back to writing.

Reading tomes of adult crime and using their techniques, Neil produced his much-loved dark adult crime fiction. ‘It took much longer than writing middle grade,’ he admitted. It needed drastically reducing. So, he re-wrote it.

The publishers were less than supportive. After fifteen years as a children’s author they were not keen to remarket him.

‘Do I really want to throw it all away and start again?’ he asked himself. Well, thank goodness the answer was yes.

Neil bandied about and re-hashed a pseudonym, finally settling on: James Brodie. Looking on it as active research for his students, he set about submitting his novel to agents. The role of head writer had given him some much welcomed experience of sitting ‘on the other side of the desk’ where he was used to receiving up to eighty unsolicited scripts a week. Tailoring his synopsis and covering letter to fit each of a list of thirty agents, he made a start in October last year and submitted to one a week.

‘Irritate them,’ he says, ‘you’ve spent so much time working on your novel, if you get even a glimmer of interest, send your work again. Even if you don’t, send it again – what’ve you got to lose?’

The response he got was the same lack-lustre response that many writers receive. It wasn’t until he’d somewhat alarmingly reached number twenty-three that he received some genuine interest.

Determined to play the game, Neil then contacted all those agents who’d requested the full manuscript only to brush him off and told them about the interest he’d had. Suddenly they all wanted him. After a ‘feeding frenzy’ as he called it, he selected an agent.

‘I think,’ he said, ‘We’ll leave it there.’ We wait with baited-breath for the next chapter.

Report by Lisa Nightingale

April 2019 Competition Results: Mark Straker – Adjudicator

The April competition was judged by actor Mark Straker, known for the Channel 4 and Netflix  Drama, ‘Kiss Me First’, and BBC Radio Drama Company Productions.  The brief was to write the outline of a plot for a TV drama in 300 words.

And the winners were:

First Place:  The Sons of Erin by George Rodger   

Second Place: A Green and Pleasant Life by Doryn Herbst

Third Place: Insurgence by Summer Quigley    

Highly Commended: Rough Diamond by Kate Salkild 

Highly Commended: Dog of War by Damon Wakes     

April Winners
Highly Commended, Damon Wakes; Third Place, Summer Quigley; Highly Commended, Kate Salkild and First Place, George Rodger

   Photo by Alex Carter

First Place: The Sons of Erin by George Rodger

‘I enjoyed the presentation, It was clear and simply presented. Reminiscent of the style of films such as, Brassed Off, The Full Monty, and Fisherman’s Friends. The use of well-liked music, camaraderie, comedy, and a hint of danger are all good selling points, that would be expanded and would stimulate the reader and later possible the viewers interest. A family drama that would appeal to a good cross section of the public.’

Logline – Three talented Country Music pub musicians attempt to win a lucrative Irish music gig by misrepresentation.

***

Country music night in the back room of a London pub. Customers leave their seats as they crowd the bar for Last Orders. Three musicians dressed as cowboys step down and sit at a table at the front. A barmaid brings across two lagers and an orange juice. The band is the “Sons of Nashville”: Aiden and Sean Sullivan and their bassist, Andy Todd. Andy is not allowed alcohol. Two girls sitting nearby try to catch the attention of Sean who is devastatingly handsome. Sean, ever careful, looks around. Two hardmen at the bar, wearing Arsenal shirts, are watching their girlfriends proprietorially. They don’t look like music fans. Eyes down, Sean sips his lager.

Mick Sullivan, their erstwhile father and unofficial manager, joins them. He places a couple of Guinnesses in front of the boys and toasts a well-dressed man who is just leaving. Mick explains he is Brian Kennedy, owner of a large local construction company. Kennedy’s daughter is getting married and needs an Irish Ceilidh band for her wedding. Kennedy, offering good money, insists upon only genuine Irishmen and

Mick has assured Kennedy that the boys are Irish. Which they aren’t. This lie will cause problems.

Mick has arranged for Kennedy to come back in six weeks to hear them do some diddledee-dee, as he calls it. They decide to ask their Grandfather, Cathal, a former All-Irish fiddler, to help them.

Sean still lives with his mother, Erin Sullivan. Divorced from Mick, she lives a quiet life. She calls her father and soon the boys are rehearsing Irish songs with Granda in the pub back room.

Six weeks later, after problems within the band, including Sean having a finger broken by a jealous boyfriend, the pub holds an Irish night. They play superbly and their appearance at Kennedy’s wedding is confirmed.

*

Now to get Aiden’s temperamental van, with their instruments, up to a stately home in Hertfordshire in time for the reception…

Second Place: A Green and Pleasant Life by Doryn Herbst 

A clear presentation, well thought out. Of a more serious nature, the style reminiscent of Joanna Trollope’s novels which have proved popular on television. Woman in midlife crisis would find a sympathetic audience, plus the husband riding to the rescue would also satisfy some male egos!  

Good female lead character, looking at the nature of midlife, and our expectations.’

Elsa, aged 57, married to Jeremy, living in London, has recently taken early retirement as a bookkeeper for a middle-sized firm.  She is dissatisfied with her lot.

She gives up all her current activities in the city – dinner club, book club, theatre club and finds a cottage to rent in a small market town in Somerset. She intends to live there only during the week. The weekends are to be spent with Jeremy in London. Elsa assures Jeremy that she still loves him and that this is not a break-up but that she needs to make some temporary changes to re-direct her life.

In Somerset, Elsa becomes involved in a local campaign to limit development on a piece of Green Belt Land and to leave the adjacent floodplain untouched. She spends more and more weekends in Somerset. Jeremy wonders whether she is having an affair.

Planning permission has been made for an estate of executive eco-passive houses. The houses are green but the total land use is not ecologically sound. Some councillors who support the development are suspected of corruption.

Elsa meets Michael Smith, a Parish Councillor who is against the new development. Michael tries to woo Elsa into an affair and she is subjected to malicious gossip from village inhabitants.

Elsa learns that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Jeremy discovers that Michael is not who he says he is. The name is correct but he has stolen someone´s identity. Jeremy goes to Somerset to win Elsa back and comes to realise that she has remained faithful to him.

Those councillors suspected of corruption are shown to be innocent. The new estate is scaled down to a smaller and more sustainable development and part of the estate is reserved for affordable housing. Jeremy finds a reconnection to Elsa and they both move to Somerset. Michael is prosecuted for fraud.

Third Place: Insurgence by Summer Quigley

‘An exciting psycho drama! As pointed out by the writer Broadchurch, Strangers, and a touch of The Bridge, plus, of course, Killing Eve!  I loved the revenge angle, with the detective facing her own flashbacks……The lead would be played by a trans actress?’

Transgender, Charlie Stredwick, always hated herself in a man’s body, but after the operation to become a woman society still didn’t accept her; women didn’t want her to use the same toilets, and didn’t feel a closeness to share emotions like they naturally would with each other.  Angered by the isolation Charlie was made to feel, she devises a plan to put men behind bars while also clearing the city of London of any women who didn’t accept her in her new body.

Working as a scientist in a Sperm Bank, Charlie secretly collected semen samples, storing them at her private residence. She would seek out unsuspecting young women, gain their trust, then murder them in their own homes; Charlie would create a crime scene to appear as if the women have been sexually assaulted on a one-night-stand, planting semen inside the women to ensure it was men the police were always searching for.

Detective Constable Heather Martin, recently failed Sergeant’s board to become a DS, but has been given the lead on this case as a chance to prove herself. As the case progresses she finds herself questioning whether she’s the right person for the job as memories of a rape she was subjected to as a young girl come flooding back.

This will be a limited series for viewers of programmes such as Broadchurch, Strangers and Butterfly. The eight-part drama will follow Charlie’s crimes as the Met police try to solve the case.

Highly Commended: Rough Diamond by Kate Salkild

‘Aussie Police meets corruption meets Family…good female lead, chasing and facing the Father/Daughter relationship and the demands of loyalty to force and family. With ultimate sacrifice?’

Successful investigations propel Inspector Drake of the NSW Police, Sydney, to a glittering career, but as a constable in the 1970s, corruption was rife. Hardened by a difficult upbringing, his father, a Gallipoli veteran, abandoned Drake’s alcoholic mother when he was ten, Drake’s own wife later deserted him to bring up their daughter alone.

Toni, inspired by her father’s cases qualifies as State Prosecutor, always working by the rules. Despite Drake’s errant ways, Toni proudly stands by her supportive father, a brave policeman and upstanding member of the community.

A recent public enquiry orders the reopening of cases of suspicious deaths of young men at the beach suburb, Manly, in the 1960s. Political pressure and police bias conspired in a cover up originally leading to verdicts of suicide.

Drake, with knowledge of these cases, leads the new investigation, the last before his retirement. Determined to confirm the coroner’s ruling, he is unafraid to cut corners to do so.

Unwell, Drake undertakes a series of medical tests.

During the investigation, Drake has tough questions to answer about lost or contaminated evidence and witness intimidation.

But within months, following diagnosis of terminal cancer, his retirement is brought forward, glittering accolades showered upon him.

Confined to his chair, a morphine drip quelling the pain, Drake’s guilt ridden musings about the case worry Toni, leading her to evidence identifying her father as one of the perpetrators. Unable to reconcile his deathbed confession with the man she knows, with rising anger she realises their life has been a lie.

Darkness descends as they sit quietly together. Awoken from her thoughts by the morphine alarm’s beep, Toni turns to her father to ask if he wants a top up. Taking a deep breath, she squeezes the barrel of the syringe steadily until the vial is empty.

Highly Commended: Dog of War by Damon Wakes 

‘I liked the war setting …. Lassie meets Stalingrad. I found that I was interested to know more about the brothers’ relationship…and after Artyom has died Nickolai’s  relationship with the dog? Transferrence or no?’

Nikolai Petrov is a Red Army soldier fighting to hold back the Nazi advance. In response to the invasion, Soviet generals dedicate more men to the training of anti-tank dogs in Moscow. Nikolai’s brother, Artyom, has Nikolai transferred to work alongside him at the training school, away from the front lines.

Nikolai proves his worth by retraining Inga, an aggressive guard dog. However, the project is flawed. Artyom has taught some dogs to place explosives under decommissioned Soviet tanks tanks, but even the best, Sila, cannot do it reliably. The brothers’ efforts are further hampered by an air raid which damages the facility and kills several dogs.

With Moscow under threat, the Soviet military demands an early demonstration against a captured German tank. During the demonstration, Sila fails to release a live mine. While attempting to disarm it, Artyom is killed. In response, the overseer abandons the idea of teaching the dogs to place mines, instead developing an explosive harness that will detonate on contact.

Though grief-stricken, Nikolai continues his work and realises that Sila’s failure was due to the unfamiliar smell of the German tank’s petrol engine: the Soviets use diesel. He is determined to demonstrate that the dogs need not be sacrificed and succeeds in training Inga to place mines reliably.

Despite Nikolai’s efforts, the project goes ahead. This simplified process proves faster to teach and requires fewer trainers. Many of the staff are sent to the front lines, but Nikolai’s experience allows him to keep his position at the training school.

The dogs are sent into battle, with Nikolai overseeing their use. Ordered to release the animals against approaching tanks, Nikolai sabotages the mine attached to Inga, giving her a slim chance of survival. Letting her go is the closest he can come to escaping the war.

universally acknowledged that a single guy with a good Tinder profile must be the first to swipe right on a girl he likes. That’s how Charlie Bing met Lizzy Bennet. But it wasn’t her he was really interested in.