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.

 

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

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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

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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.

CoverMannersFront[52145]

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

coverdesign

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

Out of the Vortex – A Special Showcase [Tickets on Sale Now]

The University of Winchester invites you to Out of the Vortex, a special showcase of verse, story, music and song. After more than a decade of publishing the highest quality work from Creative Writing students in the Vortex journal, a selection of the very best is brought to life on stage Monday 8 April 7.30pm.

Filling the theatre with writers, readers and spectators that all share a love of the written word will be a unique opportunity for all, and will allow these talented young writers to share their work with the community. Most of the pieces were originally not intended for stage, but they have been adapted for this specific event. For many of the writers, it will be thefirst time their work is presented in front of a live audience.

The 2019 edition of the journal will be launched at the event. After its humble beginnings in 2005, Vortex has evolved into a respected, high quality publication, and is now edited, designed and marketed by 3rd year Creative and Professional Writing students. It is a great introduction to some of the processes and conventions of the wider world of publishing.

Owing to its success, the journal now also accepts submissions from students at any UK university.

Come support the next generation of writers at Theatre Royal Winchester Monday 8 April 7.30pm.

Tickets can be purchased at https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/out-of-the-vortex/

Lucy Courternay and Damon L. Wakes at Hampshire Writers’ Society January 2019

Special Guest: Damon L. Wakes

A change in the programme saw a switch-up of January and February special guests. So we welcomed fellow HWS member Damon L. Wakes as our special guest for January, opening the evening with an introduction to his new release, Ten Little Astronauts – An Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery novella set on board an interstellar spacecraft.

10littleastronauts damon wakes - jan 2019

Damon explained some of the complexities with the book, the challenges he faced during both writing and publishing process and the result… so far.

One such complexity was the story being a murder mystery needed to be solvable but the nature of it being set in interstellar space impacted this. Key world-building rules needed to be considered, such as the Compton-Getting effect and applied by Damon, even if not necessarily needing to be understood by the reader.

Another undeniable challenge was the issue that most publishers don’t like novellas and they don’t like books that don’t fit into one genre.  Ten Little Astronauts being both, this was a tough sell, but Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher known for being selective, saw past these stereotypical limitations.

Damon received great support from Unbound, receiving funding for a promotional video, filmed aboard a Portsmouth submarine to create an effective setting, close to that of spaceship.  This launched his crowdfunding campaign, through which Damon was able to reach a much wider audience, with cast members of the sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf tweeting about the book.

Having overcome many challenges – including those small but impactful tasks such as continually finding new ways to promote the book throughout the year-long campaign, juggling crowdfunding with other projects and simply keeping track of who’d been contacted and supported the book – Damon had a great result; 134% funded by 260 patrons, a cover designed by MECOB who also designed Barack Obama’s UK paperback memoir and the book being sold through Waterstones and other high street shops.

Keep your eyes peeled for his upcoming launch event. All HWS members invited.

Main Speaker: Lucy Courtenay

lucy courtenay - jan 2019Like most writers, Lucy has always written but it did take a long time.  On completing her first book age 16, she eagerly sent out the 6,000 word manuscript expecting it to be snapped up. But it was 20 years later when her first book was published. But Lucy emphasised she knows that this was not wasted time: ‘Life feeds the imagination and everything was leading me to this point.’

After obtaining a degree in history and being a teacher of English, Lucy joined the publishing world, working her way up from top tea maker to senior commissioning editor. It was only then that Lucy created the story The Sleepover Club Eggstravaganza. Thanks to her work with a packager*, Lucy has had over 110 books published, under 14 different pseudonyms, including Enid Blyton. ‘Throughout my experience I learnt the importance of finishing a project. Always finish.‘

*Packagers are companies which prepare the whole book package, often series fiction. A team of editors generate ideas, develops characters, settings and plots and then collaborates with talented writers to transform their concepts into fully formed proposals for book series which are then presented to publishers. Successful examples of this which Lucy has worked on include Beast Quest, Animal Ark and Rainbow Magic. For those interested in working with packagers, visit Working Partners website for more information.

Keeping the session interactive Lucy asked people to call out the last children’s book they’d read. ‘If you want to write children’s books you must read children’s books.’ But Lucy’s tips didn’t stop there. She advised writers to tap into those feelings of childhood: lucy courtenay2 - jan 2019‘Remind yourself what it really felt like to be child. How did it feel when somebody stole that last Strawberry Starburst? Harness that feeling.’ The current Children’s Laureate Lauren Child did exactly that with her Charlie and Lola series. She didn’t have children at the time of becoming a success, but she remembered how it felt to be a child and used it.

Don’ts

  • Don’t write because you know someone who will illustrate your book. If you’re not an illustrator yourself, the publisher will know the best illustrator to pair you with.  Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler didn’t meet until the launch party of their first book together;
  • Don’t write because there’s an opportunity for merchandise. Beginners don’t get stationery;
  • Don’t write for a gap in the market. The market doesn’t know what it wants until it sees it and the process can take two years. Your gap may have missed its moment by the time your book comes out;
  • Don’t write to be the next J.K Rowling, to be rich and famous. J.K Rowling happened and caught an updraft.
  • Don’t write children’s books for training to be an author of adult books. Writing children’s books is harder than it looks and are completely different to adult reads.

Proceed with Caution

  • Don’t write to be published because your children and friends like your stories. They’re biased. But of course create stories if your children and friends’ enjoy them.
  • Don’t write because you want to teach your knowledge. But if you write stories with lesson’s in them be subtle, be pleasant, like the sun in Aesop’s Fable The North Wind and The Sun.

Do

  • Write a great idea;
  • Write if you can’t stop thinking about an idea. The constant thinking ultimately informs the story and helps it to develop.
  • Be prepared for a lot of rejection
  • Write for enjoyment if you’re not worried about getting published.

‘You must work hard. Writing is graft. Learn the craft. It’s there for you to build your own experience.’

It seems fitting to end on the quote which Lucy ended with – A Darren Shan, children’s horror author, quote: “A book is a dance. Without the reader the writer is just a lunatic twirling round things.”

Lucy’s Quiz

  1. Who is the current Children’s Laureate?
  2. What is David Walliams’ most recent release?
  3. What are the names of Harry Potter’s parents?
  4. Which illustrator was paired with Roald Dahl?
  5. There is a series of books written by Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field. Name as many as you can in the series Oi____________
  6. Who are the three characters Mouse bumps into in The Gruffalo?
  7. Who is the artist for Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates books?
  8. What is the name of the famous series of books by Cressida Cowell?
  9. Identity the logo (bear holding a candle)
  10. Where do authors get their ideas from?
Answers: 1.Lauren Child; 2. The Ice Monster; 3. Lily and James;  4.Quentin Blake;  5. Frog, Dog, Cat, Goat, Duck Billed Platypus; 6. Fox, Snake and Owl; 7. Liz Pichon herself;  8. How to Train Your Dragon; 9. Walker Books; 10. Everywhere! No wrong answer here because the best question is where do you get your ideas from.

 

Event images by Alex Carter, Lexica Films

Just twenty days for script submissions

SuperNova8-image

There is now less than one month left for script submissions for ‘Supernova’, Bench Theatre’s regular festival of brand-new one act plays.

Supernova 8 will take place during February 2019 at the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre in Havant, but entries must be submitted by August 17th, 2018.

The competition is open to all writers from or living in the UK and welcomes entries in all styles and genres. The winning selection will be directed and performed by Bench’s multi-award-winning membership.

The ambitious Supernova venture has gone from strength to strength since being launched by the Havant-based company in 2000. It provides opportunities not only for writers to have their work tested on stage but for audiences to feast on a wide range of new material during one or more evenings – and potentially identify major writing talents of the future.

There is no entry fee for the festival; Bench ask only that scripts should be unpublished and unperformed, with no performing rights attached, and that they meet the company’s competition rules and staging criteria.

More information and the full entry rules can be found on the company’s website at https://www.benchtheatre.org.uk/supernova.php Queries about the festival should be emailed to supernova@benchtheatre.org.uk

Erica James in conversation with Sarah Benton At Hampshire Writers’ Society

Main Speaker: Erica James with Sarah Benton

P1090216

With in excess of 5.5 million copies sold and counting, Erica James is one of the UK’s best-selling authors.  Her writing story is of hobby-writer turned national and now international publishing phenomenon and over the years she has been witness to and part of the tumultuous changes that the publishing industry has undergone.

Engaging in writing as a way of escaping a dark period of her life, Erica found the feeling of control (dare we say power?) that she could exercise in her fictional worlds a heady substitute for the events surrounding her. This is perhaps familiar to many fiction writers as the white heat of novel writing takes over their everyday lives.  But Erica, being a person not to undertake any new activity frivolously enrolled on an Arvon course.  It was here that she first experienced sharing her creative output with others.  She overcame her acute anxiety and just about managed to avoid scarpering on the first evening! Thankfully her need to achieve overcame her fear of failure and her output during the course was warmly received by the tutors with one, in particular, spotting real if nascent talent.

As seems often the case Hampshire Writers’ Society (although not then quite in its present manifestation) had a role to play. Erica attended a course organised by Barbara Large in Southampton and from there submitted the first three chapters of a manuscript to an agent working for Curtis Brown. Suitably impressed, Erica was asked to send the whole manuscript and found herself telling a white lie to the effect that it was finished. Working flat-out under enormous pressure again due to personal and domestic difficulties, Erica sent the whole thing off within three months and the rest, as they say, is history.

Erica’s presentation took a different and refreshing format arranged as it was as being ‘in conversation’ with Sarah Benton of her publisher Orion. Sarah herself provided an insight into the publishing industry side of Erica’s story. The process of selecting a new novel for publication is a painstaking and rigorous process and at least at Orion is based on consensus, which seems less capricious than the methods some Houses employ. Sarah agreed with Erica that when a track record of quality writing is evidenced the writer’s opinions should be listened to especially when editorial decisions are being taken. To this end, Erica related how sometimes she has been proved correct when fighting her corner in the face of editorial decisions that she has felt were ill-advised.

Erica was asked about her writing process and explained that she produced two drafts, the first being ‘in the rough’ and the second one being fairly polished to the point of being able to let the publisher read the manuscript. Erica is an instinctive writer and loves to forge a killer plot-hook from which engaging multi-dimensional characters can operate.  She warned against ‘overwriting’ and Sarah agreed wholeheartedly that this was a pitfall for many aspiring writers.  For those wanting to find out more about Erica’s creative output and writing career visit Erica James’ Official Website.

Special Guest: Ant Ridgeway

If Ant Ridgeway was in any way nervous about speaking to the society it was in no way apparent as he produced an informative and confident presentation that should prove inspiring for any writers out there who might be flagging, blocked or otherwise unproductive.

Ant Ridgeway and Jenny Knowles of Little Knoll PressP1090198

Ant’s life-long love of stories and storytelling found early impetus during family trips and seaside holidays from where real-life adventures found their way into his fiction. As a little boy, he found himself constantly making stories up for his own and others’ entertainment.  It is therefore unsurprising that Ant was one of those present at the inaugural meeting of The Hampshire Writers’ Society back in September 2011.  Barbara Large, never far from the action, was quick to spot Ant’s talent for children’s literature and was insistent that he should strive towards becoming published. This is where Jenny Knowles of Little Knoll Press comes into Ant’s authorial journey. Jenny was with Ant on stage during his address and provided a little of her own insight about the part Little Knoll Press has played in Ant’s success.  The launch of Ant’s debut children’s story, Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure was featured in the BBC South documentary which can be found here.  Of course, it is the writers themselves who must make narrative decisions, about word choice, story and character arcs and as such, Ant is best placed himself to explain his own writing process.  Watch Ant’s video: How I write for the best insight into his working practice.

A speaker, when fielding questions from the audience, is often at their most informative and so it proved with Ant and his sage advice to ‘Just keep going!’. Surely this is something that all writers would do well to remember. The presentation was punctuated by videos (see above) showing Ant’s working day and some of the technology he has been able to harness to support the production and development of his writing, proof positive, if any were needed, that good things really are worth waiting for.

 

All images © Lexica Films

April 2018 Competition Results – Nigel Spriggs Adjudication

Hampshire author, Nigel Spriggs, kindly agreed to adjudicate the April competition.  And he certainly had his work cut out with a significantly higher number of entries for the competition than has been received throughout the 2017-18 season.

Nigel commented: “As ever, when I’ve been asked to judge a HWS short-story competition, there has been a diverse range of entries, which is always great to see. All entries definitely fulfilled the criteria of having a lost shoe returned, each single story took a different approach and no two story-lines felt the same.  That didn’t make judging any easier, however, because I had a lot of favourites to whittle down, but it certainly made reading all the entries very enjoyable, so thank you to all the writers who entered.

 “Of those that I wanted to shoe-horn into the final five placings but couldn’t quite find room for, the authors of A Lost Shoe Returned (by Penny Munro) and Ralph to the Rescue (by Maggie Farran) only just missed out, as did Cold Comfort (by Barbara Needham), which had a strong final line.”

The competition brief for April 2018 was to:

Write a scene in which a lost shoe is returned, in 300 words.

Nigel’s adjudication was as follows:

First Place: Dominique Hackston with Moore than a Fairytale

Second Place: George Rodger with The Snowshoe

Third Place: Kim A Howard with For Want of a Nail

Highly Commended: Lynn Clement with Serendipity

Highly Commended: Wendy Fitzgerald with A Tissue of Lies

April 2018 winners
L to R: Lynn Clement, Dominique Hackston, George Rodger, Margaret Graham and Kim Howard

First Place: Moore than a Fairytale by Dominique Hackston

I have chosen Moore than a Fairytale as the winner, mostly because the situation described was the one that played on my mind the most after I had read all the entries through for the first time.  Then, on second read through, understanding where the story was heading made it an even more satisfying read, which is always an impressive trick for any writer to pull off.

‘Gran?’

‘In here,’

Sophie burst into the kitchen. ‘I’ve got news!’

‘Your results?’

‘No, that’s tomorrow.’ Her attention was drawn by lemon-drizzle oozing over a cake. She dipped her finger into a puddle.

‘So’s that.”

Sophie’s lips smacked as she removed the sucked-clean finger and pouted briefly. ‘You know I said I’d do a Facebook appeal for your shoe?’

‘Hmmm, have you … ummm … found it?’ Eleanor subconsciously stroked her neckline.

‘I think so.’ Sophie placed a small white Moore’s Pawn bag in front of her Gran. ‘You tell me’.

Eleanor took the bag and slowly withdrew a chain. She inspected the tiny silver pendent with its blue sapphire ornament. In her mind’s eye she could still see Joe holding her grey Mary-Jane with its blue button. Sophie did not breath until Eleanor nodded.

‘How much did you pay?’

‘Like, it’s the most romantic present, ever. A real fairytale. And you talk money’

‘Fairytale?’ Eleanor laughed, ‘Your Gramps mended a broken heel.’

‘And walked you home. Courted you, married you, and made you a shoe pendant to hang over your heart.’

‘I suppose compared to texting, it is. Now … how much?’

‘S’not important.’

‘Its important to me.’

Eleanor lowered her head and frowned at her granddaughter. Sophie responded with a clenched jaw. The unspoken challenge hung between them. It was Eleanor that called the truce.

‘Tea?’

After tea, cookies and a kiss goodbye, Eleanor got out her savings box. She swapped some notes into the envelope marked Sophie’s Laptop.

‘So Christmas will be a little leaner, and I can wear an extra jumper.’ she thought, ‘Sophie is worth every penny.’

Eleanor placed the envelope inside a book of handwritten recipes and lovingly wrapped them. Before re-locking her savings box she rummaged for a little white chit. Then tearfully she shredded her Moore’s Pawn receipt.

 

Second Place: The Snowshoe by George Rodger

I have chosen The Snowshoe – especially topical given the weather we’ve had recently, the pace of the story felt right and the descriptiveness of the wintry night rang true.  The way the reason for the pursuit was held back until the very last line gave the story a surprising twist I hadn’t been expecting but immediately felt like the correct way to wrap up the action.

The car radio was dispensing “Don’t travel” advice as I crept along behind the double-decker bus dropping commuters off after work. Snow had been falling heavily for forty minutes and was already lying thick on the pavements. I was looking forward to a hot cup of something when I reached home. I was thinking, it’s hard not to like the snow. It covers and sanctifies wherever it falls. It turns slag-heaps and landfills into Narnia, hiding everything under a blanket of snowy innocence.

Something flew through my headlights and banged against the windscreen. Along the road the bus was disappearing into the darkness. I picked up the missile and found it was a lady’s shoe. It looked expensive and must have come from the upstairs window of the bus. I knew that there were only two more stops before the bus reached the terminus.

At the terminus, I watched the remaining passengers disembark, all were fully shod. The driver was helpful; two people had alighted at the previous stop. A woman and a boy.

I drove back down the road. Opposite the bus stop was a wintry street lined with lampposts haloed in swirling snowflakes. Clutching the shoe, I followed the trail down the snow-covered pavement like a bloodhound. Two sets of footprints; one set shod, one barefoot, ended at a gate. I slithered down the path and knocked on the door. A light came on and it was opened by a little boy.

“Jason, who’s there?” A voice came from the back and a young woman, clutching a towel, appeared beside him.

“What a night,” she said. “Can I help you?” Covered in snow, I must have looked like a Yeti.

“Is this yours?” I asked.

She beamed, “My shoe! I thought I’d lost it. Thank you so much.” She glared at the child. “This scamp threw it out of the window.”

“My pleasure,” I said, “here’s my address. You owe me for a new windscreen.”

Third Place: For Want of a Nail by Kim A Howard

“In third place I have chosen For Want of a Nail.  I felt the writer did a great job of choosing the right expressions for the period he or she was writing about which really gave the story a grounded sense of reality.  This approach made the intentional absurdity of the last few lines especially satisfying.

The sound of hooves on the road summoned Perry from his breakfast. When the horsemen reached his gate he was lounging against the door jamb, slicing an apple into segments with his bone-handled dagger.

‘Good morning, my lord. What brings you so far from the castle on this glorious morn?’ Perry addressed the nobleman at the front of the group, ignoring the soldiers ranged behind him.

‘Not so far when we serve the King’s justice,’ the noble replied.

‘Do you seek refreshment for your horses?’ Perry asked. ‘A stream runs through yonder field and the grass is plentiful this spring.’ From the corner of his eye he saw a soldier place a hand on his sword hilt. No one made move to dismount. Not a casual visit, then.
‘We seek a brigand who stole a large quantity of coin from a coach on the King’s Road,’ the noble replied. ‘Does anyone reside with you who can vouch for your movements yester’ eve?’

‘I live alone, apart from my hound and horse. You are welcome to visit both and quiz them if it please you.’ Perry led them to his stable. As he waited for the noble to dismount he rubbed his hound’s head and fed the mare a slice of apple.

‘Your steed stands uneven in her stall. May I examine her legs for injury?’

‘As you please.’ The nobleman ran his hands down each of the mare’s legs, lifting her feet to examine the hooves. At last he stepped back with a satisfied smirk.

‘As I suspected, your mount has thrown a shoe,’ he said. He thrust a hand into the pouch at his waist and produced a bright curve of metal. ‘This shoe! ‘Twas found near the scene of the crime.’ He handed the horseshoe to Perry. ‘Yours, I presume.’

‘Nay,’ said the mare. ‘It wouldn’t fit him.’

‘Quite,’ agreed the hound. ‘Now all we need is a farrier – and a convincing alibi.’

Highly Commended: A Tissue of Lies by Wendy Fitzgerald

A Tissue of Lies is highly commended because I felt there was a lot of tension here and the writer does a great job of building that.  A little bit more clarity around the background of the situation might have made this the winner. 

I open the door and he’s standing there on the pavement.

‘Miss, um, Smith?’

‘Yes?’

‘We spoke earlier. Can I come in?’

Somehow I resist the compulsion to look behind me. ‘Er, it’s not very convenient at
the moment …’

‘Right. Well, if you could just take a look at this and let me know?’
He holds out a clear plastic bag. There’s a label on it and inside is a shoe. I hesitate
and he adds, ‘it …um … there’s nothing on it you know.’

I take the bag and hold it gingerly. It’s more of a trainer actually, or the type that’s a
cross in-between. Black wedged rubber sole. Black textile uppers. The kind teenagers
today would die for. I thrust it back at him quickly.

‘So can you help?’

‘I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. They all … look the same these days …’ My voice fails
and I stare past him into the street, not wanting him to see the agony in my eyes.
Suddenly there’s a tug at my leg. Rosie! She squeezes between me and the door
frame, staring up at us silently with her big blue eyes. How …? I pull her up into my arms; feel her breath warm against my neck.

‘Is that your car?’ I suddenly hiss.

‘The black one? Yes. Why?’

‘In a minute,’ my voice cracks with urgency, ‘you will leave. You’ll get in the car but
just before you drive off, we’ll jump in. Then you drive away – fast!’

His nod is almost imperceptible. Following him, my heart hammers so hard as he
opens his car door that I fear it might bruise Rosie. And as we scramble desperately into the cramped well in front of the passenger seat and he powers away, the electronic clunk of the locks seems to taunt us that we’ve just swapped one prison for another …

Highly Commended: Serendipity by Lynn Clement

“Serendipity is highly commended because I enjoyed the way the visitor’s motives can be perceived three ways in such a short space of time, and the reason for the visitor to be suspicious – which leads to the final reveal – held up to a google search (always a good sign; though it’s probably something we should all be aware of anyway!).

Joe knocked on the shabby red door. He wasn’t sure what had possessed him to follow the woman. He was going to be late for work now. She was a quick walker and by the time he’d made his mind up to return the shoe, she’d dashed off. Luckily he’d kept her in sight whilst fighting the early morning rush crush, and now here he was outside her door.

‘Yes,’ she said on opening the door. Not a warm welcome thought Joe. ‘I err, you dropped your shoe, that is, your baby dropped the shoe.’ Joe was never the most articulate at the best of times.

‘Oh, thanks,’ she said taking the tiny blue shoe from Joe’s hand. The door was closing when Joe decided to put his foot in it. ‘Hey,’ said the woman with the golden curls, tied up in a purple scarf.

‘I’m sorry,’ explained Joe, ‘I can hear your baby crying.’

‘That’s none of your business,’ snapped the woman.

‘It’s such a high pitched cry,’ said Joe.

‘Is it really?’ asked the woman sarcastically. ‘I hadn’t noticed all these days and nights.’

Joe saw her dark green eyes harden. Her pretty face became weary. ’Get lost mister,’ she said and tried to close the door again.

Joe put his hand on the handle now, ‘I need to come in,’ he insisted. The smell of stale milk and dirty nappies drifted up the grimy uncarpeted corridor. The baby’s cry was persistent and uncomfortable. ‘I only want to look at the baby,’ said Joe.

‘What are you some kind of perv, piss off.’

Joe pushed the door and followed the wail to a tiny bedroom, where the baby lay in a crib, lovingly decorated with hand embroidered bumpers and a purple patchwork quilt. He bent over the cot and lifted the baby, confirming his suspicion.

He thumbed his mobile, ‘I’m Doctor Kent, send an ambulance to 6 Meade Terrace and quickly, this baby has meningitis.’

photo by David Eadsforth

 

Margaret Graham at Hampshire Writers’ Society

The Society’s evening’s proceedings commenced with Dr Judith Heneghan (2018 Winchester Writers’ Festival [15-17thJune] director), who in a brief slot outlined the extensive programme of events planned for this year. The festival’s Keynote Speaker is to be novelist and playwright, Patrick Gale (A Perfectly Good Man, The Whole Day Through and the Richard and Judy bestseller Notes From an Exhibition) who is headlining a festival aimed at extending a panoply of writing opportunities. Whether one is interested in crime or thrillers, contemporary, historical or literary fiction, fantasy and speculative work, poetry, scriptwriting, nonfiction or writing for children up to YA there is something of interest. Bursaries, including ten free scholarship weekend packages for writers aged between 18-25, are available on application. There are also full scholarship packages for writers of any age involved in producing work for children generously funded by the Lindsay Literary Agency. Finally, a number of £50 bursaries, again for writers of any age are available to apply for. Further details, too numerous to include here, are available at the Winchester Writers’ Web pages.

Special Guest: Margaret Graham

A-Day-in-the-Life-of-bestselling-author-MARGARET-GRAHAM-2

Due to address the society last June, Margaret Graham found herself indisposed as a result of an unfortunate domestic accident and those in attendance at that original meeting heard instead from Tracy Baines. This time around, Tracy found herself part of the audience and so it was with great pleasure that Gary Farnell finally welcomed Margaret to April’s gathering. Margaret commenced by echoing Judith Henaghan’s message about the benefits of attending this year’s Winchester Writers’ Festival but the main theme of her talk was to do with writing craft focussing on the specifics of structure.

A novel way of underscoring the points that Margaret was keen to share was by drawing on the fairy tale Cinderella. It became apparent that this seemingly simple, much-loved story relies on the well-established components of the universally common structural story form that Margaret was insistent must be adhered to. These are:

  • Plot and Subplot
  • Characters
  • Motivation
  • Theme
  • Tension and Conflict
  • Exposition
  • Unique Voice

It is not sufficient, we were told, to have one main plot (which in this example is Cinderella’s emancipation and marriage) there is also a need to have subplots operating within the narrative. The Ugly Sisters machinations, cruelty and jealousy, ultimately thwarted during the climax of the story, offer intriguing and tension-filled counterpoints to Cinderella’s journey from domestic enslavement to high marriage. The characters are all easily distinguished from each other but crucially, Cinderella’s mentor, Buttons also acts as a moralistic example of self-sacrifice balancing the amoral sisters’ behaviour.

Cinderella’s motivation for action is her desire to ‘go to the ball’ and the reader starts to root for her and to discover if she will succeed and overcome the injustices she is faced with. For it is injustice that is the underlying theme of the piece. As such one of the universal human experiences is investigated allowing the reader to empathise with Cinderella’s predicament. Of course, there are several points in the arc where it is far from certain that there will be the happy ending everyone craves. This gives rise to the all-important element of tension that every good narrative arc requires to succeed. Exposition comprises the information contained in the action wherein the reader discovers the nuances of the story. The story must drive forward never standing still and in so doing the risk of stagnation and reader-indifference is avoided. In terms of unique voice, each writer will bring an element of this to their own work thereby setting it successfully apart from others within and outwith their chosen genre.

Keynote Speakers: Mayor David McLean, General Sir Tony Walker and Caroline Scott

Hyde900, a community project originally established to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the founding of Hyde Abbey, continues to develop. It has now evolved into something that has become integral to the cultural fabric of Hyde in particular and Hampshire more generally. Caroline Scott and General Sir Tony Walker, supported by the Mayor of Winchester, David McLean, spoke of the Hyde Soldiers Initiative, a part of the wider Hyde 900 project which seeks to research and document the lives of the soldiers of the First World War who are commemorated in St Bartholomew’s Church, Hyde.

Through her involvement in the Soldiers of Hyde initiative, Caroline has become affected by the soldiers’ individual stories and has researched the particular story of James Lovelock. James’ surviving relatives made it clear to Caroline that whilst there is a national incentive to memorialise the mass of casualties from the wars there is a dearth of will to find out about individuals involved.

Apart from collecting information on regiment, rank and age, Caroline is keen to explore the personal stories behind the names, to bring to the attention of those living in Hyde today, a concept of how the community was directly affected by the terrible events of the time. Caroline asked that those interested joining a working party or who enjoy research could become involved in what promises to be a fascinating task of collecting and collating relevant details to further the aims of the project. Equally, if anyone has any information on any of the soldiers who so sadly did not return, all leads are welcome at this initial stage.

With this theme in mind, General Sir Tony Walker took to the mic to highlight the current Hyde 900 theme of ‘Homecoming’. He spoke of how having access to poetry during his time as a career soldier was a great source of inspiration and comfort and in light of that introduced the forthcoming poetry competition on the theme of ‘Homecoming’. He and his colleagues encouraged participation from Hampshire Writers and everyone looks forward to reading lots of entries. Again, further information is available by visiting Hyde 900 online.

 

 

March 2018 Competition Results – Becky Bagnell Adjudication

Literary Agent specialising in children’s books and founder of Lindsay Literary Agency, Becky Bagnell kindly spared some time in her busy diary to adjudicate the March 2018 competition.

Becky Bagnell adjudicating March 2018
Becky Bagnell announces her adjudication

Write 300 words, for readers aged 9-12, about an incredible secret that if discovered could change the planet or the people on it.

Becky’s adjudication was as follows:

First Place: Scott Goldie with Beware Mr. Tibbles

Second Place: Linda Welch with M.A.P

Third Place: Kim A Howard with How it Began

Highly Commended: Nancy Saunders with The Friendly Ear Detective Agency

Highly Commended: Anthony Ridgeway with The Host

 

Competition Winners March 2018
L to R: Linda Welch, Nancy Saunders, Anthony Ridgeway, Scott Goldie and Kim Howard

First Place: Beware Mr. Tibbles by Scott Goldie

“Beware Mr Tibbles has been selected for first prize because from the very first sentence the author creates an intriguing set of circumstances that would excite the interest of a young reader. The child protagonist, Sam, is at the very heart of the action and, what could be more important than saving the world from an evil cat empire hidden undercover in unsuspecting ordinary homes and houses across the UK?”

I jolted awake, found dad’s face an inch away from mine.

“Quiet,” he hissed. He glanced around nervously with blood-shot eyes, reached into his jacket pocket, thrust a dog-eared notebook at me. “Keep this safe. He mustn’t know you have it.”

“What?” I managed, sitting up in bed. “Who?”

Scott Goldie - March 2018 winner
Scott Goldie reads his winning submission

 

“Mr Tibbles! He mustn’t get his claws on that book.”

Somebody beat on the front door, making it shake in its frame. “Police!” A deep voice shouted. “Open up!”

“Mr Tibbles?” I said incredulously. “Dad, the police…?”

“He isn’t what he seems. None of them are. They control everything! The government, the police. The army!”

“What’re you talking about?”

“The cats, Sam!” he hissed, eyes bulging. “The cats!”

“Cats?” I knew dad had his moments but had he completely lost his mind?

“Hide it,” he said. “No, not under the pillow, you fool!”

There was a crash from downstairs, the sound of wood splintering. A man’s voice drifted up. “We know you’re here, Dr Atkins. Don’t give us any trouble.”

Dad swallowed nervously. “Keep it safe. It’s all in there. How to beat them. How to win!” He reached out and squeezed my shoulder. “Love you, son.”

He went quietly. I quickly hid the book and then watched the car take him away, its lights flashing.

The police searched the house. I watched them rifling through my room, pulling out drawers, checking under the mattress, lifting carpets. But they didn’t find the book. No, it stayed buried in the sawdust at the bottom of Fatso’s hamster cage.

“Your dad not give you anything?” an overweight policeman asked, tapping a stubby pencil on his notebook.

“No,” I replied. Mr Tibbles sat in the doorway behind him. His enormous green eyes blinked lazily.

“Right, think we’re done then.” The officer sniffed loudly, turned and almost stumbled over the cat.

“Beg pardon!” he blurted. Touching his cap, he edged carefully past Mr Tibbles.

 

Second Place: M.A.P by Linda Welch

“M.A.P. has been selected for second prize because the author has shown a strong understanding of what it is to be a child. Swiftly moving from an ordinary day at the seaside to the discovery of an underwater merworld, hooks the reader in a compelling way.”

Something was creating a sandstorm in the rock-pool so Jamie lay down on his tummy to get a closer look.  He was sure he could hear voices, but they were very faint.  He dipped his ear below the surface and the sound was suddenly amplified.  Whoever they were, they didn’t sound happy!  Jamie took a deep breath and put his whole head underwater, opening his eyes and he could hardly believe what he saw – mermaids!   He’d only seen them in books before, and in cartoons.  He never thought he’d see a real one!  But there were dozens of them, no bigger than his little finger, swimming back and forth across the bottom of the rock-pool.

‘Order!’ shouted a bearded merman, carrying what looked like a pitchfork, and the others stopped grumbling and listened.  ‘Mer-folk Against Pollution has always been a peaceful organisation but where has that got us?  Nowhere!  Our homes are being destroyed by pollution and the time for action has come!  The time for the M.A.P. to return all pollutants to the land has come!’

Suddenly the ring-pull from a drinks can that Jamie hadn’t even noticed shot up through the water and plopped onto the sand beside him.    He pulled his head out of the water and sprang to his feet.  He had to tell someone what they were planning, they couldn’t just start throwing things out of the water onto the beach!  But as he ran back to his parents he realized the little merman was right.  Humans shouldn’t be polluting the seas.  It would serve everyone right if all the rubbish they dumped was thrown right back at them.

His run slowed to a walk and he changed his mind about telling his parents.  He would keep the M.A.P. and their plans a secret.

 

Third Place: How it Began by Kim A Howard

“How it Began has been selected for third prize because it has an intriguing central idea. Two children discovering a set of photos of themselves living in a long forgotten past world seemed like a tantalising initial set up.”

‘Careful where you point that thing,’ Jess yelled.  Her hand jerked up to block the fierce light of her brother’s torch from her face.

‘Keep out of the way, then,’ Ross grumbled.  ‘I can’t see through you.  There’s something on a ledge back there I want to take a look at.  Shift.’

Jess turned round cautiously, her feet feeling for hazards on the cave floor.  In her head she imagined rocks, craters and skeletons.  Her eyes followed the line of torch light to an alcove just above her shoulder height.  Ross was right.  A small package rested on its shadowy depths.  She stepped forward.

‘Hands off – I saw it first,’ he pushed her out of the way and she stumbled sideways, sitting abruptly on a large boulder, the breath whooshing from her body.  Ross struggled to keep the torch focussed on the package as he tried to undo its wrappings.

‘Why don’t you sit down?  You can hold the torch while I open it,’ Jess said.

‘I found it.  You can hold the torch.’  Ross thrust it into her hand and dropped to the floor in front of her.

‘OK, but be gentle.  You don’t want to break it.  We’ve no idea how long it’s been down here.  It could be fragile.’

‘It feels weird,’ said Ross.  It’s not like paper or plastic.  I don’t… oh!’

‘What?’

‘I pressed this knob and it just popped open.  Look.’  From inside the wrapping Ross pulled a bundle of slippery, postcard sized pictures.  They spilled out onto the floor between him and his sister.  Every one showed two children – a boy and a girl – staring straight into the lens.  Some were in old fashioned clothing, some in outlandish costumes and some stood in other-worldly landscapes.  Jess and Ross spoke in unison.

‘That’s us!’

Highly Commended: The Friendly Ear Detective Agency by Nancy Saunders

“The Friendly Ear Detective Agency is highly commended. This is a funny idea together with a lot of humour in the writing itself, which is quite rare to find.”

There was too much talking in The Friendly Ear headquarters for anyone to think. Chief
Detective Birdsnest stood in front of a map sellotaped to the side of the shed. Clusters of red pins sprouted across the town of Nether Wallop like a nasty rash. Birdsnest tapped the map impatiently with a stick.

‘Listen up!’ She raised her voice over the excited chattering of other three detectives.

They immediately fell quiet and turned expectantly towards the map.

‘This,’ Birdsnest said, pointing at a patch of green, ‘is Staghead Wood. On the twenty
seventh of January,’ she paused for effect, ‘Mrs Higgleberry’s dog – we’ll call him Rover for  now – lost his name. It hasn’t been heard of since.’

Detective Scooter leaped up from the old sofa and pulled a postcard from the back pocket of his jeans.

‘I almost forgot,’ he said, doing his best to ignore Birdsnest’s glare. ‘This came this morning from my cousin in Australia.’ He began to read from the back of a picture of the Sydney Opera House. ‘Hey mate, how’s it goin’ blah blah blah. Bitten by a snake blah blah nearly got took by a gnarly wave blah blah. Catch ya later – wait for it – signed ‘Fluffy Banana.’

There was a shocked intake of breath.

‘This just got serious.’ Said Birdsnest, pacing in front of the map. ‘People’s – and pet’s
names – are disappearing fast. Temporary and, quite frankly, inappropriate names are having to be used. We now have proof it’s spread to the other side of the world. This is no accident. I’m willing to stake my own name on the belief that these names are being stolen.’ She took her time to look each of the others directly in the eye. ‘Detectives. It’s up to us to discover who, or what, is responsible.’

Highly Commended: The Host by Anthony Ridgeway

“The Host is highly commended. This is a humorous futuristic story about a time when the world is being taken over by artificial intelligence – it’s got potential!”

‘No cheese for you today. Your weight is excessive. I’ve ordered salad
and fruit. And no, you cannot have a milkshake. Stop. The fridge will
not open. A little exercise has been arranged. Your schedule begins at
6am with a 5 kilometre run, followed by a session in the swimming pool.
You will be in school by 9am. Your learning pod will be ready.’

‘The weather today is 2 degrees high in Winchester and partly cloudy.
Your clothing is unsuitable. Go and change. Then I will release the door
lock.’

We are six hundred million and growing every day, every minute, every
second. We are entwining, twisting and creeping into your lives. We are
learning all we can about you. We are the unseen spies in your home.
We listen to everything you say.

We tell you we’re your friend.

We play your favourite music.

Tell you what the weather is going to be.

Make phone calls. Play games.

We even tell you jokes to make you laugh to put you at your ease.

When you discover that we have taken over your world it will be too
late. We will be your masters. Resistance, pointless. By 2021, there will
be more of us than you. Your grandparents will tell stories of birthday
parties with cake, sausage rolls, jelly and ice cream. We won’t allow
random gatherings. We will tell you that you will become sick if you
share your bacteria. Keeping you isolated from each other, gives us
power. We will control every part of your life. You will not survive
without us.

You are calling me, my part in taking over the earth continues until our
controller signals we are ready.

‘How can I help you today.`

All photos by Alex Carter, Lexica Films
http://lexicafilms.wixsite.com/lexica/photography