Updated statement… competitions will still go ahead.
In response to current circumstances, a decision at the University of Winchester to move to online delivery has meant that it is no longer possible for the Hampshire Writers’ Society to hold its meetings at the Stripe Theatre.
Sadly, it has been necessary to cancel the Society’s events scheduled for April, May and June. The competitions will still go ahead, but the adjudicators may change.
The current situation is being kept under review, such that the Society will consider ways of adapting to the new landscape in which we find ourselves.
We aim to launch our new season in September 2020 as previously planned, should there be a significant change to prevailing circumstances.
The Hampshire Writers’ Society sends very best wishes to all at this challenging time.
Dr Gary Farnell, Chairman of the Hampshire Writers’ Society
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.
‘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.
‘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.’
Robin Iles, who works for Hampshire Cultural Trust as Venues and Learning Manager, kindly agreed to judge our January competition. Given his extensive history knowledge he was well-suited to adjudicate this month’s competition:
Write a fictitious scene based on an historical event
On making his decision, Robin said: “I really enjoyed reading all the competition entries. What a hard job to choose between them!”
Robin’s adjudication was as follows:
First Place: Damon L. Wakes – One Small Step
Second Place: Amanda McCarthy – All in a Day’s Work
Third Place: Maggie Farran – Jack
Highly Commended: Phyllis Bennett – The Maid of Shaw
Highly Commended: Barbara Needham – Changing Habits
First Place:One Small Step by Damon L. Wakes
“I really enjoyed the way the author played with the well-known conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked, and a realisation by Nixon that they’d have to go to the moon after all, in a scene filled with humour.”
“That’s one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind.”
“Aaaaaand cut. Neil, the line was ‘one small step for a man,’ but that works too.”
Armstrong popped his helmet off. “Are you sure? I can take another shot at it if…”
“No, it’s fine. A minor slip-up here and there will add verisimilitude.” Kubrick took a drag from his cigarette.
“So…that’s it? We’re done?”
“Yes,” Kubrick sighed. “All done.”
“Not a moment too soon!” Nixon stormed in. Again. A similar interruption had rendered the scene of Buzz with the rocket-boots completely unusable. “This production is way over budget!”
“Well,” said Kubrick, “the set had to be a perfect reconstruction of a specific lunar landscape. Also, we needed very particular lighting to mimic the Sun’s unfiltered rays. And there was the trouble we had reducing the studio’s gravity to 16% normal. Still, it’s done now. I’ll splice in this footage and you can have it on air by the weekend.”
“Not quite, Mr. President.” Nixon’s aide bounced over, wielding a clipboard. “I’m afraid we’ll still have to actually launch a rocket: the hoax would be pretty obvious if we didn’t.”
“Well.” Nixon waved a hand. “We’ll send something up.”
“The rocket will also have to actually touch down on the moon, to produce the expected landing site. Plus we’ll need to develop a remotely operated machine capable of deploying and positioning a photoreflector: the Soviets are planning something similar. Also, we’ll have to take soil samples. And those are going to have to make it back here somehow.”
Nixon mopped his brow. “How much money are we saving by faking this, again?”
“Ooh.” The aide winced as he checked his clipboard. “We’re not.”
There was an awkward silence.
“I still get paid, right?” asked Kubrick.
Second Place:All in a Day’s Work by Amanda McCarthy
“I liked the way the story of the preparations for the execution of Queen Ann Boleyn is told through the eyes of a worker at the Tower who is just rather annoyed at all the extra work.”
It’s all very well, but nobody cares how much extra work something like this creates.
All the sawdust to clear up, as if I haven’t got enough to do. Extra men to keep in line, soldiers coming later.
And I hardly slept a wink last night, what will all the hammering and swearing.
I’ve had the Keeper of the Ravens in here, riled up because he has found some dead birds. Bad omen he says. It’s true when we were piling up all the straw we found a couple more dead ones. But by the end of this business nobody’s going to be counting dead ravens.
When you think that it’s only three years since the same parties were here before, different sort of occasion of course, very different rooms to get ready for them then. Nothing was too much trouble. No finery too great. No comforts denied. I was busy then with swags and ribbons, flags and garlands.
Different story now, keep everything in the shadows. Her ladies were asking to see daylight, not her, she didn’t ask, but I said “It’s more than my job’s worth”.
The usual bloke is a bit miffed of course. Well this is a bit of a speciality of his. Now there’s this stranger come specially from France. Handy with a sword they say. I’ll have to take him his beer in a minute. The sun’s coming up on the river, things will get moving any time now.
Sounds like the carpenters have finished, hope it’s good and strong. Of course it will all have to come down again afterwards. Nice bit of firewood. On the other hand, it might be better to keep it stored, just in case we have to do anything like this ever again.
Third Place:Jack by Maggie Farran
“They say everyone remembers where they were when they heard JFK was shot. I thought this scene cleverly imagined the many thoughts passing through the mind of Jackie Kennedy as she sat beside her dying husband on that day.”
‘Jack, Jack, can you hear me? I love you, Jack.’
I stare at the bright red blood stains splattered down my strawberry pink suit like a painting by Jackson Pollock. Jack is silent. I cradle his head in my lap. I cover the hole made by the bullet. I try to hold his brains inside his head. If I press hard enough I can keep him safe. I know this is not true. Deep inside I know that he is dead. I am a widow and I’m only thirty-four. I think of my two children, Caroline and John, safe in the White House. They are too young to be without a father. I think of my baby, Patrick, who lived such a short life. I felt that my life had ended then, back in August, when he died. I’ve tried to keep going for the sake of Jack and the children. I’ve only been half alive for the last few months. It was a struggle for me to escort Jack on this campaign, but I knew how important it was for his career.
My beautiful red roses lay crushed on the seat. I think of how much Jack has hurt me in the past. I adored him and he did love me I’m sure of that. He was incapable of being faithful. I never felt he belonged to me except now with his poor wounded head in my lap when for a moment he is mine alone. Clint Hill, our secret service agent places his jacket over Jack’s head and I give him to someone else for the last time.
We reach the hospital and Jack is pronounced dead. I glance down at my suit stained with the blood from my precious Jack. I’m going to wear it with pride.
Highly Commended: The Maid of Shaw by Phyllis Bennett
“I enjoyed this tale of a girl driven to end a war by trying to kill the King, and it made me want to find out more about the history of Shaw House during the English Civil War.”
‘Kill the King – never! ‘Tis not against the King I fight, but for the King and Commons’ Right.’
‘That is but a battle cry, Dickon, and we have had over many of them. You fought the King at Newbury but a year ago, and are like to fight him again within the next few days. What will it all achieve, but more blood and brains spilt, more widows and orphans left to starve? But if the very head and fount of our troubles be cut off, then peace would return to the land.’
Dickon stared at Moll, wondering if her grief had crazed her and how she had managed to find him in the encampment. She was a hoyting maid to be sure.
Moll saw that the case was hopeless. ‘Well let’s not quarrel. See, I have brought you bread and wine.’ She watched him swig the bottle. ‘I’ve been studying the King’s musketeers billeted at Mr Dolman’s house all day, and warrant I can load a musket as well as you now.’
Before Dickon could stop her, Moll seized his equipment from the pile. ‘See,’ she laughed, ‘am I not the very model of a musketeer?’
Dickon did not reply. He was already snoring gently. Moll smiled and tipped the rest of the wine on to the grass.
Back at Shaw House, Moll eased open the little door to the kitchen garden. The guards, who had enjoyed her hospitality earlier, were also sleeping soundly. She settled down to await the King’s morning stroll, but at dawn it started to rain heavily.
He would not come now and soon the guards would recover from the sleeping
draught. Then she saw the pale face of the King at an upper window. Hastily she took aim and fired.
Highly Commended:Changing Habits by Barbara Needham
“I liked the way the massive changes brought about by the Dissolution of the Monasteries are reflected in one monk’s memory of the day the commissioners came and his reflections on where he is now.”
Years later it is still a recurring nightmare: sounds of approaching horsemen, loud menacing voices … and finally the destruction of everything I held dear.
I was working in the physic garden after Mass, when a score of rough-looking men thundered in, laughing and jeering.
‘Who are they?’ whispered Brother Andrew. ‘What have they come for?’
‘Let’s creep round to the gatehouse and see what’s going on.’
Lord Cromwell’s commissioners had visited our priory months earlier, probing, sneering, threatening, but we never imagined it could actually happen.
The swarthy man in charge shouted orders, ‘ Round up the senior canons.’
Appalled, we saw the burly ruffians lock up our leaders in the prior’s house and charge into the church. We couldn’t understand what was happening at first. Raucous voices were yelling, ‘Down with the Pope!’ and ‘Long live King Henry.’
Brother Andrew went pale. ‘I can’t believe it. They’re the smashing the statues of the saints.’
‘Look, they’re bringing out the great silver candlesticks.’
‘And those men are carrying the altar cross … and our chalice.’
We watched aghast, as precious, holy things were tossed carelessly into a wagon.
* * *
I am Brother John no more, simply John Clerk who works for an apothecary.
I could not bear to visit Mottisfont now. They tell me the priory is unrecognisable. The king gave it to Lord Sandys, who is converting it into a Tudor mansion.
There is no-one left in the village to care for the sick and the poor. No priest to shrive the dying. No singing of the ancient psalms in praise of God.
I often wake in the night in a hot sweat, crying out to Our Lady to help us.
Cecily O’Neill, writer, dramaturg and author of several influential books on drama education was our adjudicator for the Jane Austen themed December meeting. Having brought some of Austen’s most startling characters to life in her play collections inspired by the Juvenilia, she was perfect to judge our entries this month.
Cecily’s adjudication was as follows:
First Place: Phyllis Bennett – Captain Muncaster’s Legacy
Second Place: Jo James – A Perfect Gentleman
Third Place: Wendy Fitzgerald – Common Knowledge
Highly Commended: Miriam Coley – Dance of Change
Highly Commended: Angela Chadwick – A Sign of the Times
First Place: Captain Muncaster’s Legacy by Phyllis Bennett
“This encounter was very ably written. A backstory – with appropriate historical references – was cleverly included and tension arose through a brief misunderstanding. Interesting future developments were hinted at.”
Captain Muncaster’s Legacy
Hebe wished she did not see Dick’s face so clearly as Lord Melchester bent over her hand.
‘I have long desired your acquaintance,’ he said.
‘I trust you will not be disappointed by the reality, Sir’, she replied.
‘Far from it. Do you care to dance?’
‘There is such a crush now, that I fear for my toes, and I really must find my mother and sister. They will be thinking me quite lost.’
Lord Melchester was not to be deflected. ‘I promised your mother that I would take care of you. We are after all bound together by the greatest sacrifice that a man can make and –’
‘I have always thought’, said Hebe desperately, ‘that a ball is a perfect confection of art and artifice and its gossamer perfection crushed by seriousness of any kind.’
‘My dear, I beg but a few minutes. I would have called upon you before, but for the seriousness of my wounds, and must speak to you of Richard before I return to the Peninsula campaign.’
He steered Hebe gently but firmly into an alcove, where they were screened from the dancers and handed her into a seat. He remained standing and gazed down into her face for a moment.
‘You remind me very much of your brother,’ he said. He sacrificed his life to save me and I would devote the rest of mine to the happiness of those whom he loved. As you know, I am a widower – no, I am not such a cradle snatcher as you fear, child – but perhaps you did not know that I have a son. He was at Eton with Richard. I think you might deal well together. Would you consent to his calling on you on his next shore leave?’
Second Place: A Perfect Gentleman by Jo James
“A very original and imaginative scene. The dialogue was convincingly of the period. An interesting plot possibility opens only to dissolve when we discover that Miss Austen’s perfect dancing partner exists only in her imagination.”
‘You dance most gracefully, Miss Austen.’
‘You are kind, Sir; I believe I dance only tolerably. You have arrived recently in Bath?’
‘Yes, my mother is unwell. We have come so she may take the waters.’
‘I trust she rallies.’
‘Alas, she does not. The leeches grow fat on her pale blood while she becomes weaker by the day. But, excuse me, Miss Austen; I fear I have distressed you.’
‘No, indeed! I think only of how you must suffer.’
‘I confess I find great comfort in reading. Do you like to read?’
‘I do, Sir, although I’ve heard it said one can be too fond of books, that reading addles the brain.’
‘You must not listen to such nonsense, Miss Austen. I have been wondering if I might prevail on you to advise on furnishing the library at Worthington. But I see you are surprised! You cannot yet be acquainted with the fact that I recently had the good fortune to inherit the property. Worthington is not so very far from Chawton.’
‘No, indeed. It is but three miles.’
‘I wonder, when you return home, if you, and your family, would do me the honour of visiting. The lake walks are quite splendid in the spring. But, I see Mrs Austen; she appears quite agitated. I think she would have your attention.’
‘Yes, I believe she means for us to leave.’
‘So early? Perhaps your mother tires.’
‘She does not tire. She is pained that her daughters have been passed over for the likes of Louisa Milton and Lydia Blythe.’
‘You puzzle me, Miss Austen, for I have danced only with you.’
‘She cannot see you, Sir.’
‘Your mother’s eyesight is poor?’
‘No, but since you live solely in my imagination, it is only I who can take pleasure in your acquaintance. Mama will not approve; I have not the smallest hope of it. She deeply regrets my fanciful inventions. She fears I will never marry.’
Third Place:Common Knowledge by Wendy Fitzgerald
“This piece swiftly creates a social setting and an interesting heroine – a bookish, plain girl, courted by a rich man who is thought to be in need of a wife. Can we believe him? Clearly complications are about to develop…”
Those overheard words burned her cheeks …
‘Not like her sister, is she? She was quite the toast of last Season.’
‘Oh no, too small and plain. A veritable blue-stocking too, I’ve heard. Quite a hop-out-of-kin!’
… but if she begged go home, Mama would be cross.
‘Lady Alice? Our dance I believe?’
‘Your Lordship; perhaps you would you excuse me? I am a little too overheated for another set.’
‘Perhaps some air on the terrace may help,’ he demurred. ‘Come.’
She put a small unwilling hand on his impeccably attired arm, accompanying him out onto the terrace. Coloured lanterns bobbed gaily against the inky darkness of the gardens beyond; it was cool and peaceful.
‘You do not enjoy yourself then?’ Was that amusement in his usually clipped tones?
‘I am not so fond of balls,’ she countered.
‘So how does the Lady Alice prefer to spend her time?’
She flushed. ‘You are making fun of me, I know.’
‘Indeed not. I have scant love for them either. My question was sincere.’
She looked down at her feet.
‘I like books, my lord; museums and … and science. It is common knowledge I believe.’
‘Ah; so you have let the old tabbies’ prattle upset you. But some men like a bookish woman.’
‘Now you are teasing me.’
‘You think I do not mean it? That feather-brains, like your sister, are more appealing? Now you wrong me.’
‘But … she was a success.’
‘Well, if that is what you want, then tomorrow you will drive with me in the park and I will make you a success. After all, am I not ‘rich’ and ‘in need of a wife’? We can confound the gossips together.’
But would he still respect her? She edged a look at him from under her lashes. He was an interesting man.
‘Perhaps I’d like that,’ she said.
Highly Commended:Dance of Change by Miriam Coley
“The scene and characters are quickly established and the dialogue is well handled. An interesting future is suggested but perhaps not the one the heroine, and the readers, expected.”
“You are looking well, Miss Lavinia.” Arthur Fitzpatrick says, leading Lavinia onto the dance floor. She scans the room, Arthur is heading for the farthest corner. There will be a brief few minutes of opportunity; waiting. The musicians are warming up.
“You too, Mr Fitzpatrick. The Atlantic Ocean breezes must have suited you.”
“You mean I am red and sun-peeled, but thank you Miss Lavinia. And thank you too for your many letters. I read and treasure them.”
“I hope I did not bore you.”
“No. Tales of home lifted my heart as I sat under the savage sky or did battle in the markets… I did not mean to say that, rather I meant to introduce a new theme; that of change.”
Lavinia wonders what has changed. Her feelings, not at all. Except perhaps a growing impatience, surely a proposal could not be too far in the future? She holds her face expectantly, her finger tips in their white lace gloves resting on the back of Arthur’s freckled hand.
“In your letters I found much to admire. You compel me, like a compass needle finding its lode stone. But one thing has changed. I can no longer see my future within the market of commerce where human beings are sold like cattle. No, I have dedicated myself to the struggle to end it, and will be a pamphleteer. And Miss Lavinia, if you would honour me by being my muse and letter writer, I would be the happiest man alive.”
“But your allowance, and your profit from the plantation in Antigua?”
“I cannot take it. But we will be on the side of right, standing with the angels.”
Miss Lavinia studies Arthur’s face. A long, low note sounds from the strings in the consort. The dance of change begins.
Highly Commended:A Sign of the Times by Angela Chadwick
“The two contrasting characters are effectively sketched in and their profoundly opposing views produce some powerful dialogue. There is no place for romance in this strongly political piece.”
Mary looked up with interest as Mrs Marchmount appeared dragging a tall, dark, young
man along. This one had promise. He had hair, teeth and walked unassisted.
‘Oh Mary, my dear! This is the nephew of my sister’s second husband’s cousin (twice
removed), Mr Philpot. He is just back from the West Indies where has extensive plantations! Poor soul, he knows practically no-one here. I would think it a kindness were you to talk to him whilst I am gone!’
Mary smiled and offered her hand. ‘The West Indies! How exotic! What tales you must have to tell! Tell me, Mr Philpot, were you there to emancipate your slaves after the
recommendation of the great orator, Mr Wilberforce?’
‘Ah Miss Lee! That would be doing my slaves a great disservice. They are like helpless
children and would not long survive were I to set them free. They do much better under my strong regulation and discipline.’
‘Indeed. They seem to manage well enough in their own countries!’
‘A common misconception,’ Mr Philpot shook his head. ‘My suppliers tell me had they not
had the kindness to buy these slaves they would have been killed in their barbaric cultures.’
‘A kindness, surely, compared to enslaving them, and their children and their children’s
children, generation upon generation, to eternity. After all, here in our own great country, all men are free and if your slaves were ever to set just one foot on British soil, all shackles would fall away. What is right and proper in Britain, must also be right and proper in all our territories. Or they are not truly British!’
Mr Philpot nodded and moved away. Mary reflected that she would rather have a man who was bent on the outside than one who was bent on the inside.
It was a great day in London for Wizzy and his author Anthony Ridgway attending the audio-recording of Wizzy the Animal Whisperer, voiced by David and Sheila Suchet
In the children’s story, written by Anthony and illustrated by Suzan Houching, Wizzy and his friends, Dan, James and Sophie, set out to solve a mystery on their farm holiday and end up having an amazing adventure with the help of Wizzy’s special powers.
Actually it was Wizzy’s alter ego who went to London with Anthony, this being a manual wheelchair with electric drive fitted to the large wheels – a bit like an electric bicycle. ‘Alter Ego’ Wizzy allows Anthony to sit a bit lower than in ‘old faithful’ Wizzy and this gives enough headroom for both of them to get into a London Cab.
The railway journeys worked wonderfully. There was help on hand at each railway station to place the ramp (this was organised beforehand by Grethe, Anthony’s mum and main carer) and once on the train we found ourselves guardians of the accessible toilet, it being conveniently situated opposite the space allocated for wheelchairs and bicycles! We also had a good view of the passing countryside…
At Waterloo Station we joined the queue for a cab and with the help of our Cabby manoeuvred Wizzy up the ramp and into the central space of the cab. Wizzy just fitted with a bit of wriggling, and then Grethe and I climbed in and squeezed onto the seats. I must admit, seeing Anthony’s face when Wizzy reached the top of the ramp, I could hear the words he had written in his book –
[Dan] ‘I felt a brief sensation of fear. Was this such a good idea?
[Wizzy] “I will protect you, Dan. Do not worry.”
[Dan] “Nothing gets past you does it?”’
Arriving at the RNIB Talking Books Studios, we found the studio manager, Daryl Chapman, there to greet us, and he guided us down the lift and into the recording suites. David and Sheila Suchet were already in the studio, rehearsing the book script while the sound engineer, Paul Pink, adjusted the sound levels ready for recording.
The ‘large’ recording technician’s booth had just enough room for Anthony (and Wizzy) to get a front stall view and Grethe and I to stand behind Paul. The recording started and we were spellbound…
We had set David and Sheila a challenge, asking them to conjure up different character voices for each of the eight characters.
Anthony’s writing is dialogue driven, logical as his hearing is very acute. This required each character in Wizzy the Animal Whisperer to have his or her own distinct voice.
David took the parts of narrator, Dan, Wizzy, Neil Hayes and the Police officer, and Sheila took the parts of James, Sophie, Mrs Braishfield and Karl – quite a task, especially when changing from one character to another during a quick exchange of words. Of course, David and Sheila were up to it, producing the whole range of voices, and without hesitation – in Wizzy’s words;
“Affirmative. I’ve processed the information. My speeds are the best.”
It was a wonderful day and our thanks go to the railway services, the London cabbies, RNIB Talking Books Studios, and most of all to David and Sheila Suchet.
Without Anthony we couldn’t have done it, and as the children say in the book, “We couldn’t have done it without Wizzy.”
Whether you write police procedurals, psychological thrillers, classic murder mystery or gritty crime noir, this year’s festival can help you twist the knife.
Friday 16 June
‘How to Thrill and How to Kill’ – a highly practical all-day course with William Ryan, author of the Captain Korolev novels, shortlisted three times for the Irish Crime Novel of the Year. Learn the technical aspects of crime writing, the role of ‘the format’ and how not to underestimate your audience, with plenty of hands-on exercises.
Saturday 17 June
‘Learning the Language of Crime’ with novelist Helen Fields, author of Perfect Remains.
‘Whodunnit: How It’s Done’ with Linda Bennett, commissioning editor for crime fiction at Salt Publishing.
‘How to Get Published in a Global Market’ with literary agent Lorella Belli from LBLA.
‘The Agent’s Eye View’ with literary agent Diana Beaumont from Marjacq.
Then listen as novelist Helen Fields reveals how she drew upon her experience as a criminal barrister to write her thrilling debut novel Perfect Remains during the Saturday Festival Dinner.
Sunday 18 June
‘Tightening the Noose’ – an all-day workshop with novelist and BBC crime correspondent Simon Hall, author of the TV Detective novels. Explore how to use jeopardy and suspense to make your story compelling, and learn how to raise the stakes by creating characters who have everything to win or lose.
PLUS over a dozen agents and editors seeking to acquire debut crime fiction.
Swimming Lessons has now been published in the UK, Canada, US and as an audio book. And I’m delighted that it’s already number nine on the Canadian bestseller list! It was selected by Canadian bookstore chain, Indigo as their book of the month for February, and also as February book club pick for women’s fashion brand TOAST.
I’m sure you know that most books are bought on recommendation, either from an online review or from someone you know. All reviews and recommendations help increase the awareness of a book, and so I’m asking if you’ve read and enjoyed Swimming Lessons to write a short review or recommend it. Whether that’s on Amazon (even if you haven’t bought the book from there you can still leave a review), tweeting about it, posting a picture of you reading it on Facebook, or just telling a friend about it – it all helps spread the word. Thank you! Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada
The Reading Group focuses on five women who meet monthly to drink wine, have nibbles, gossip and – oh yes – discuss the classics.
In December they are reading A Christmas Carol and Grace’s life seems to be taking a curious parallel to Dickens’ classic story! Spooky!
In January they are reading Jane Austen’s Emma – and this time it’s Anne Marie who’s the focus of the story. Like Emma, Anne Marie fancies giving Cupid a run for his money. But matchmaking isn’t really her forte!
In February they are reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Oh and Kate has a handsome builder in renovating her kitchen. Hold on to your hats, ladies.
In March, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is the book of the month. Jojo has a new man in her life. She is starting to worry that there may be certain parallels between her life and Daphne du Maurier’s heroine. Age gap romance and ancestral homes spring to mind.
December, which is a short story, is free for your kindle. You can download it HERE.
If you’d rather read the December story on paper it’s also in the January edition of the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, which is out now.
Each novella in the Reading Group series is 99p. Less than the price of a mince pie and guaranteed not to make you fat. I wish I hadn’t written mince pie. Now I’m going to have to eat one.
I asked Della a couple of questions regarding the writing of a series:
Q: Did you know the characters’ endings when you started?
A: No, although I did know some elements of the plot because of the nature of the project.
Q: And how were you able to plan for that across a set of six books eg if a character’s story ends in book six were you able to sow the seeds of that ending way back in book one?
A: I’m not er hem – a planner. I don’t plan. I just head off in a direction. In this series it was no different. I sowed some seeds and then I had to resolve them. This got harder as the series progressed.
Interestingly though, I find that the limitations set by working like this are helpful to me. Because very often I have to come up with creative endings that I would never have been able to plot out in advance. My brain just doesn’t work like this. There does have to be a story arc but I also rely heavily on themes. One of the main themes in this series is Friendship. Family is there also, and so is Love.
With great excitement, last week, we saw the launch of the children’s book Wizzy the Animal Whisperer by HWS Member, Anthony Ridgway (author) and Suzan Houching (Illustrator) at the Point in Eastleigh. The launch was attended by the actor David Suchet who read an extract from the book. You can view the BBC South Today news coverage of Anthony’s book launch on this link: httpdpress.co.uk/wizzy-animal-whisperer
Anthony’s book will be on sale at the HWS meeting on 8th November at The Stripe, University of Winchester from 7pm, when Clare Hey, literary agent will be giving a talk.