Hampshire Writers’ Society AGM 2018-2019

Report from Events Manager, David Eadsforth

The 2018-19 season proved to be as exciting as we hoped. In September, Tracey Corderoy, the amazingly prolific author of sixty children / young adult books, and Barry Timms, author and editorial director of Little Tiger Books, described how they collaborated on picture books. In October, Ian Thomas, writer, programmer, and games developer for Talespinners, described the art of game writing and narrative design to a packed house. November saw deeply experienced literary agent Heather Holden-Brown describe the path to publication, and in December the year was rounded off by Penny Ingham, classical scholar, ex-BBC production assistant turned author, who explained the benefits of working with the small independent publisher to research, write, and publish historical novels.

2020 was opened by Lucy Courtenay, author and editor of children’s books, who described how to get started in writing an illustrated children’s book. In February, Edward Docx, thriller writer, explained the craft of creating the bones of a narrative in a single brainstorming session. And in March, Judy Waite, children’s author of more than fifty books, took an interactive workshop approach to tell us how to fire up our creative curiosity.

In April, Neil Arksey, screenwriter, script editor, producer, lead writer on a number of TV dramas, and now author of young adult novels, described how the challenge of finding an agent can meet with success. In May, Stevyn Colgan, policeman turned author, took us through the illustrious history of British comic writing and, to wrap up the year, Simon Hall, news correspondent for twenty-five years, gave us an insight into the real events that have inspired his crime writing; and how to locate a dead otter when circumstances dictate.

All in all, another great season for the HWS.

 

Report from Liaison Officer, Gary Farnell

2018-19 has been a busy year for the Liaison Officer at the Hampshire Writers’ Society (HWS). Liaison has been mainly at the University of Winchester, but also with other bodies – at both regional and national levels – where there is an interest in the Society’s activities. In addition, there has been further liaison with specific individuals, with a view to putting together the HWS programme for 2019-20.

When vacancies arise on the HWS Organising Committee there is often an element of liaison which comes into play, in order to fill these vacancies. 2018-19 has been no exception in this regard. It is pleasing to report that the HWS Organizing Committee continues to function, in 2019-20, as the hard-working body it has always been.

The Liaison role at HWS also entails acting as moderator at the Society’s monthly meetings, in the post-talk question-and-answer sessions. This is a very stimulating role to perform: it has been a privilege, and a pleasure, to be able to meet with the Society’s speakers and guests in this way.

There will, of course, be further liaison in 2019-20. The Society is already planning its next season: it will be exciting to try to shape a new programme from the activities of the past year.

 

Report from Competitions Manager, Helen Adlam

The 2018/19 season was busy in terms of competitions.  As well as the regular monthly competitions, October 2018 saw the addition of the Hyde 900 poetry competition (organised in conjunction with Edward Fennell), which received 13 entries.  The winning poems were read out by actor Nigel Bradshaw at a specially arranged Hyde 900 commemorative event in Winchester.  In addition, children’s author, Judy Waite, organised a Wordtamer competition, inviting writers of children’s fiction to enter a short story/novel extract.  The prize was a one to one session with Judy to develop the story further, as well as a selection of Wordtamer-related books.  This competition received 10 entries.

In terms of monthly competitions, the average number of entries was around 10.  However, the competition judged by Claire Fuller in February 2019  – Write a last letter from a parent to a child – proved to be particularly popular, generating 23 entries.  Least popular was Write a story outline for a video game, adjudicated by Ian Thomas.  This, disappointingly, only attracted seven entries (last season’s lowest figure for entries was 11).  Competitions which evoke personal memories, or memories from childhood, seem to be the most popular.  It is noted from last year’s report that the most popular competition drew 26 entries, so three less than the 23 generated most recently.

 

Report from Membership Secretary, Karin Groves

During the 2018/2019 season, the Hampshire Writers’ Society grew to 154 members. Amongst the members you will find published and established authors; those seeking literary agents and publication; students studying for undergraduate or postgraduate degrees or attending creative writing classes; and those for whom writing is a passion or an enjoyable interest.

In the past year, there have been two HWS Book Fairs (December and June) for mainstream and self-published members of the society. This gives authors an opportunity to display and sell their books. The occasion was a great networking opportunity for all members. I am currently taking bookings for the next book fair in December 2019.

Subscriptions 2019/2020

Without members paying a subscription fee and visitors paying an entrance fee, the HWS would not have enough income to pay for the speakers, so it is essential to renew the membership, introduce new members and publicise our events to keep the HWS thriving.

The HWS was able to offer a special discount price of £25 until the end of August for 2019/2020 membership. From 1st September 2019, the membership subscription is £30. Students are free on production of a valid student card. Non-members pay £5 per evening. All this is exceptional value for 10 monthly informative and entertaining evenings.

For no extra charge. members have the opportunity to join the HWS Critique Group; enter the monthly writing competitions; and participate in the Members’ Book Fair in December and June.

Due to rising costs for the speakers and falling numbers of people paying a subscription fee, from September 2020, the subscription fee will rise to £35 per year. The cost of a visitor ticket to our Tuesday evening events will rise from £5 to £6. This is the first increase in nine years. Also from September 2020, free membership will only be available to full time students.

It is possible to subscribe or renew your membership at any HWS event by cash, credit card or cheque or email Karin Groves for the HWS bank details to make an online payment.

Planning for 2020/2021 Season

We always have our members in mind when the committee is planning for the next season. After many helpful suggestions and contacts last year, we were able to create a diverse programme of speakers for this coming season. Now we are planning for the next season, so we ask again for your suggestions! Please email your ideas or leave a list at the next meeting.

Volunteering, vacancies and ideas!
The Hampshire Writers’ Society is run by a very small committee of volunteers and we are always looking for people to help in any way they can.

We need:

 

·         A Marketing Manager

·         HWS Newsletter Editor/Compiler

 

Report from the Treasurer,   Crispin Drummond

The financial statement for 2018/19 has been prepared. It shows a reduction of membership income for the year, at a time when the Society engaged with an increased number of speakers coming from the other side of the country. These additional travel and accommodation expenses meant costs rose importantly. In consequence the Society made a deficit for the year amounting to nearly £2000, and our capital funds are much reduced.

In reaction, The Organising Committee has met to view the forecasts of costs and revenues for the coming year, and to confirm the adequacy of our resources for the remainder of the year. At the same time steps are being considered to replenish the Society’s capital, to boost recurrent revenue, and to re-establish the financial strength as we embark on the next season of the Society’s activities.

Claire Dyer and Hilary Hares – October 2019 – Chapter and Verse

Tuesday, 8th October’s meeting was one filled with warmth and a relaxed, chatty atmosphere throughout. Audience members were able to ask questions of the two friends as they thought of them which ensured that time was made for everyone’s questions, with two openhearted, welcoming speakers in Special guest Hilary Hares and main speaker Claire Dyer.

Special Guest: Hilary Hares – Writer and Poet

Poet Hilary Hares gave a captivating talk about honing your craft. While some poets may jest that you should never trust a poet who can explain what their poem means, Hilary told how it’s important to know the essence of what you’re

Hilary Hares - Oct 2019
Hilary Hares

writing.

“When I’ve written it, I often cut it in half to distill the essence,” Hilary told, elucidating this further with “as much as property purchasing is about location, location, location, poetry creation is about revision, revision, revision.”

Hilary suggested the following edits and checks to strength your work after the first draft:

  • Read aloud to feel the rhythm;
  • Check your verbs – are they powerful enough?
  • Check your nouns – are they all working well?
  • Move things around;
  • Change the point of view;
  • Change the piece from passive to imperative voice. This will reveal which voice is stronger for this piece.

You need to know whether you’re just writing for yourself or for public consumption, because if for public consumption you will need to make decisions on how you want this to happen. A second pair of eyes is a must; Go to open mic open nights. There’s one in Winchester, even if it’s just to listen; You could Attend a tutor group or poetry school – some good ones are Arvon (https://www.arvon.org/writing-courses/courses-retreats/) or Live Cannon (http://www.livecanon.co.uk/courses).

“Most valuable is a trusted poetry friend. Claire Dyer is mine. You become to know each other’s style and likely edits. We know what will be e-mailed to each other now so we make those amends before sending for review.”

“I’ve written about 600 poems, so I use spreadsheets to keep track of where I’ve sent them and where they’ve been used.” You must be disciplined about sending work. Hilary recommends setting aside a day a month specifically to do this, whether sending to competitions, magazines or works being published. Set yourself small goals but be realistic with time lines. Print magazines may take six months to respond but online magazines’ turnaround is closer to three weeks. But also read the print or online publication you’re submitting to first, do your research. You want to be sure of quality.

Hilary told how ‘rejection is your friend.’ She voiced how it can feel personal when you put your heart and soul into a poem but ‘if you look at the poem as an entity in its own right which needs to find its way in the world, like sending your children off to university, it becomes easier.’

Hilary has used this system for 11 years and so far has had 150 poems published either in print or online.

“I take a lot of inspiration from Radio 4. For example, I heard on Radio 4 about a whale who gave birth to a baby girl and a baby boy. The daughter went off to be her own personality but the son stayed with his mother, learning from her. There is inspiration everywhere – Facebook, funnily enough. I don’t engineer inspiration. Things pop up.”

“Some of my favourite poets would be Jo Bell, Kim Moone, Simon Armitage, Alice Oswald. The list goes on. No particular genre. We would be here all night if I listed them all.”

 

Main Speaker: Claire Dyer – Chapter & Verse

Claire is an author of three poetry books and four novels published via two agents and two publishers (with many more written and hidden in the loft); being a writer of both chapter and verse, Claire is often asked which she prefers. But she finds this question very similar to ‘which one of your children is your favourite?’ the answer will always be: ‘I like them the same.’ “There are different challenges with poetry and prose but in both you need to use character, message, atmosphere, voice.”

Claire Dyer2 - Oct 2019
Claire Dyer

It was the 10 years of experience on top of studies that led Claire to discover her voice. Claire joined the Poetry Society (https://poetrysociety.org.uk/), went to festivals, studied for a Masters at Royal Holloway, and 10 years later was when she noticed a change in her writing, “Nothing beats thrashing out ideas with other poets. All life is material. Nothing is ever wasted. Writers’ lives are exciting and frustrating in equal measure.”

Claire has been teaching creative writing for five years. She has seen writers grow in confidence and conviction during this time. She also runs a critique service – Fresh Eyes (www.clairedyer.com/fresh-eyes/) – which she hopes most writers will find less extortionate in price in comparison to the typical fees you expect from paid critique services.

“Writing can be frenetic and other times can be silent. I had to learn to be silent.” Putting a poetry collection together can take years, Claire’s first collection took 10 years, her second took four years and her third took five years to compile.

“And learning to live with rejection is important. Writing is a journey of wonderment. We’ve been to some amazing places, but I also have enough rejections to wallpaper St. Paul’s Cathedral… and I still don’t take them well,” she laughs, self-deprecating.

But Claire’s favourite part of writing is the personal connection: “Living with the work is so wonderful. Living with the writing life is my oxygen, publishers are a secondary consideration. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one page or a 100,000.” Claire loves writing a character that even she doesn’t know what they’re going to do next, until she sits and writes their pages. “Many writers will know exactly how their story is going to end but I like the ending to be a surprise for me and then I know it will be a surprise for the reader.”

Claire started her writing journey with ‘very bad short stories’. Her first novel at just 20,000 words she was advised to put under the bed. So she did and it’s still there. Claire said how with rejections you only ever remember the negatives, those directions to hide things under beds, you miss the positives comments of what worked well. But there are things that you can do that will help, Claire suggests ‘being in a writers’ group – such as Hampshire Writing Society – is step one; and to read! Read in your chosen and other genres. Look for good dialogue/bad dialogue; ask yourself ‘how is it constructed?’; inspiration is everywhere.

“I’m often inspired by one tiny idea, one tiny thought; for example, with my book Last Day, I wanted a love triangle where everyone got on and wondered how that would play out. Inspiration could be found looking at a photo, looking at a door, books can grow from the smallest idea. I have even spent time with potters, carpenters, firefighters just to learn.”

Last Day, underwent three major rewrites. “It’s no surprise it can take 18 months for a book to reach the shelf when you see the process of publishing a book.”

“Sometimes you’ll have three sets of experiences live in your mind at one time,” Claire explains. “The book that’s on the shelf selling, the book that’s with the publishers going through the process and the book you’re currently writing. I’m a nightmare to live with at this point,” Claire quips.

With 15 books written, Claire is familiar with sometimes falling out of love with a book when you’ve left it a while. And then it can be impacted by timescales, continuous advances in technology, for example, and can make it even harder to go back and change it. Changes in readers’ expectations as time moves on also plays a part. As a comparative in example, modern day readers like to be thrown into a book but Victorian readers enjoyed the slower introduction.

“It’s about the journey, not the destination. So much of what we do is predicated by luck. Our chances are slim but we keep hold of hope. Keep the faith in your work and maintain public contact… And don’t get too drunk at book launches.

“Enjoy the friends you meet, the points of view you get, live the writer’s life. You’ve got to be in it to win at it, after all.”

photos by Alex Carter, LexicaFilms

 

An Extra Ingredient!

This week we’re very lucky to have Sue Moorcroft Sunday Times and international bestselling author send us a writing tip. Sue is worth reading, she has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle, won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary; and she’s been nominated for several other awards, including a RoNA.

A writer of short stories, serials, columns and writing ‘how to’, Sue’s courses have appeared all over the world!

Her current release is Let it Snow, in which Lily the heroine searches for her half-brothers. Lily’s quest takes her from the frosty cottages of Middledip village to the snowy mountains of Switzerland. The ebook is out now with the paperback and audio available on the 14th November 2019

-  A tip from Sue Moorcroft

You’ve written a story, a good one. You’ve created a high-stakes conflict to hurl at your central character and had her or him solve it via a pivotal moment. Your setting’s vivid; your characters jump from the page; you’ve spoken your dialogue aloud. There’s no overuse of adverbs, repetition, passive or loose sentences. Your metaphors and similes are poetry.

And yet you’re not satisfied.

Where do you look for that extra ingredient to catch the eye of an editor or judge?

How about a specific angle in your structure? An easy example of this is the ‘epistolary form’, which means a story told in the form of correspondence. For years – centuries, I suppose – it often meant letters but now we’re equally likely to see email or other electronic communication. For the purpose of this post I’m going to use the word ‘message’.

Maybe it’s because we’re taught not to read the messages of others that reading one within a story can be so intriguing? You can tell an entire story in the form of messages or just introduce one at the right moment.

We tend to write (text/message/e-mail) in our own voice or some version of it. You can use this fact to create a strong impression of the character responsible. This can be especially useful if you want to bring out the voice of a character who has no viewpoint and little or no dialogue.

A teenager’s text or WhatsApp:

hope u & dad r ok. thx 4 sending my course work can’t believe I forgot it lol.

A solicitor’s letter:

Dear Mrs Bell

I am writing to update you on …

A love letter:

Hey, sexy buns …

A threatening note:

Some people should know when to shut up …

Cyber bullying:

Everyone knows you’re …

Messages can be a brilliant way of getting information over to readers without the dreaded ‘infodump’. If you’re writing about a character with an unusual medical condition, creating a message board for the sufferers in your story provides an accessible way to get background detail across.

Big Bob: What I find the hardest to deal with is the shakes from the meds. Anyone else get this?

Little Ted: It’s a stress when you’re trying to talk to a girl, isn’t it? I spend a lot of time with my hands jammed in my pockets.

This personalises the condition you’re trying to convey and prevents your story plunging into passages that sound like a medical text book.

Here are a few ideas for utilising written communications in fiction. Just add imagination:

o   Letters

o   emails

o   Texts/WhatsApp

o   Social media posts

o   Diary entries

o   Log book entries

o   Reports (medical/school/work/prison)

o   Sticky notes

o   Graffiti

o   Lists

o   Recipes

o   Blogs/blog comments

o   Newspaper/magazine articles

o   Footnotes

o   Excerpts from books

o   Songs or poems

Note: It’s important to be aware that it may not possible to use lyrics from songs or excerpts from books without gaining permission from the rights holder. Check out the relevant copyright law, especially if the author is alive or died less than seventy years ago. Or write your own!

 

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

 Rosie pic

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

Website: www.rosietravers.com

Theatre of Dreams

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

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

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

Your Secret’s Safe With Me

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

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


LISA NIGHTINGALE

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

PrintA Bite of the Past

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

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

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

Does he want to take another BITE OF THE PAST?


ANTHONY RIDGWAY

Wizzy and the Seaside Adventure

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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.

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

 

 

 

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

Snow Globe VanishingSecrets of the Snow Globe – Vanishing Voices

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

 

 

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Secrets of the Snow Globe  – Shooting Star

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

Are you ready for the magic?

 

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


MARTIN KYRLE

Martin’s books:

Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway

 

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

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

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

 


DAVID BRUCE

Caird Publications Poster [536357]

Aviation novels by David Bruce available on Amazon Kindle

Finishing School

Night of the Whirlwind

Falcon

Scorpion Force

The Prototypes


JUDE HAYLAND

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

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

WRITING:

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

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


T.J.HOBBS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Skylark Sings[2589]A Skylark Sings

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

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

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

HeavenDay Trips to Heaven

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

Karma NeutralKarma Neutral 

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

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

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


MARION DANTE

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

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

a lOVE aS sTRONG

 

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

 

 

 

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


CHERYL BUTLER

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

 

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JANE AUSTEN & SOUTHAMPTON SPA

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

Rrp£8

THEATRE OF THE WORLD

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

RRP£10

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


 

 

 

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

Special Guest: Claire Gradidge

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

Claire Gradidge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stevyn Colgan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Event images by Alex Carter, Lexica Films

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

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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