March Competition: Winners and Simon Trewin’s Adjudication

It was a pleasure to welcome Simon Trewin, Head of the London Literary Department of William Morris Endeavours as our adjudicator for March. Simon kindly stepped in when Becky Bagnell had a family emergency.

The number of entries this month was back to a more manageable number, at 27.

I am sure that all of the entrants are thrilled to know that Simon cast his expert eye over their work, a wonderful experience even if they didn’t win. Read Simon’s comments and the winning entries below. His choice of winners is:

1st Place

HOME TO ROOST by DAVID LEA

2nd Place

VOYAGE AROUND MY HEART by LOUISE MORRISH

3rd Place

FAMILY MATTERS by JUSTIN STRAIN

Highly Commended:

FIREBALLS by GILL HOLLANDS

BRITISH LAWNS AN OVERVIEW by CHRISTOPHER YOUNG

Congratulations to all.

Next months competition is:

 

Write a steamy love story. (300 words)

 

The adjudicator will be Alison Spencer, author of Tug of Love, best debut novel, Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Please remember that I have set up an automatic reply informing that your work has got through. I will come back to you ASAP if anything is wrong with your entry.

Keep writing,

Sharon

 

1st Place

Simon Trewin: ‘This felt instantly intriguing and that the author understood the genre from the inside out. HOE TO ROOST sounds like the sort of book as a consumer I would gladly pick off the shelves’

 

HOME TO ROOST by DAVID LEA

‘Home To Roost’ is a Police Procedural set in Hampshire. The story opens with the discovery of a body at a chicken farm – a young woman’s leg wearing a man’s Argyll pattern sock protrudes from the surface of a slurry pit.

The victim, Christiane, is French.

DCI James Gawthorpe leads the enquiry and is attached to the Serious Crime Investigation Unit based in Winchester. Gawthorpe is approaching his fiftieth birthday and the people he has to deal with rarely surprise him any more, whether criminal or police. He has a greyhound called Putin.

Gawthorpe meets PC Effie Makepeace at the scene of the crime. She is thirty-three years old and of mixed race. She is also extremely bright and very attractive. She went to school at Cheltenham Ladies College and speaks with an upper-middle-class English accent. She has joined the police under the auspices of the Police High Potential Development Scheme. All of the above can result in her attracting jealousy, suspicion and prejudice, both inside and outside the force. She also speaks fluent French and Gawthorpe needs her expertise.

As the investigation progresses there is no shortage of possible culprits and they all appear to at have least one of the usual motives – lust, greed, pride, envy and jealousy. Most of them have interconnected lives and motives. Most are also known to Roger Humphry.

Humphry is a grotesquely obese and deeply unhappy man who lives in a large house overlooking the farm. He is a consultant in the technology of surveillance and has hacked into the phones and computers of many of the suspects. He seems to have had a particular interest in Christiane. Effie agrees to meet him and we then fear that she could become the next victim. However, Roger commits suicide, leaving evidence that helps lead to the arrest of the actual murderer.

Although its setting is ‘cosy’, it is realistic in style and references a number of gritty contemporary issues. Apart from ‘whodunit’, the main plot interest is in the development of the major characters and, in particular, the relationship between Gawthorpe and Effie.

 

2nd Place

Simon Trewin: ‘This is bold, ambitious and multi-layered. I knew nothing about Jeanne Baret and this synopsis makes me very intrigued indeed as to how the novel will unfold.’

 

VOYAGE AROUND MY HEART by LOUISE MORRISH

Inspired by true events, ‘A Voyage about My Heart’ is set in the 18th Century and tells the story of Jeanne Baret, the first woman to circumnavigate the globe.

When Jeanne, a humble French herbalist, meets ambitious botanist, Philibert Commerson, the course of her life takes an extraordinary turn.

Commerson is compiling a grand herbarium, a collection of every plant in France, and desires Jeanne’s herbal knowledge. Working closely together, they soon become lovers. But when Jeanne falls pregnant, Commerson, intent on completing his life’s work, forces her to abandon the baby in a foundling hospital.

Clinging to the hope that she will be able to reclaim her baby one day, Jeanne stitches a keepsake into the child’s clothes; a muslin bag of carefully chosen herbs, symbolizing a secret message of love for her son.

But the baby dies within months.

Heartbroken, Jeanne believes she has little to live for. Within weeks, Commerson accepts a position as Ship’s Naturalist on a voyage of exploration around the world, and asks Jeanne to accompany him as his assistant. Seeking to escape her grief and guilt, and with nothing left to lose, she agrees. Disguised as Commerson’s cabin boy, Jeanne sets sail on the Etoile, a lone woman amongst three hundred men.

The crew are suspicious of her, particularly the ship’s surgeon, Vives. Over the next two years Jeanne travels uncharted waters, visiting exotic lands and discovering new plants.

But then the voyage runs into misfortune. Jeanne suffers an assault by Vives, and her secret is discovered.

When the Etoile reaches Mauritius, Jeanne realises she is pregnant. Commerson leaves the ship to work for Pierre Poivre, the administrator of Mauritius and a keen horticulturist. Desperate to escape Vives, Jeanne chooses to stay with Commerson, continuing as his assistant.

Jeanne gives birth to a girl, Stella, but soon after, Commerson dies from an infection. His Will leaves Jeanne enough money to live on, if she can return to France to claim it within a year. Jeanne sells herbal remedies to raise money for her passage home, and finally sets sail for France with Stella.

 

3rd Place

Simon Trewin: ‘This is a compelling premise for a novel and the synopsis fills me with a hunger to know more.’

FAMILY MATTERS by JUSTIN STRAIN

Steven’s family has a secret.

When Steven’s grandfather dies, his family is shocked to learn of an unknown granddaughter, Stella, who lives tucked away in a quiet Cornish village. Compelled to learn more, and searching for a change in his own life, Steven moves to Cornwall to meet Stella.

As Steven and Stella’s relationship grows, Steven begins to understand his history from a different perspective. He unearths the long-buried secret of Stella’s grandmother, Margaret, a wartime heroine, in Nazi-occupied France. Through flashbacks and letters, Margaret’s story gradually unfolds, revealing more about her clandestine work for the Special Operations Executive and her London romance with Steven and Stella’s grandfather, at the time a young seaman in the Royal Navy.

The revelations shake Steven’s beliefs and force him to reconsider his own family ties. Stella confronts him with his estrangement from his sister, his mother and his dying father, and challenges him to rebuild those relationships. Initially reluctant, he comes to realise how much they matter to him. As they begin to forge fragile bonds, Steven learns to accept his family, with both their virtues and their flaws, and to recognise his own responsibility for the divisions between them.

For Stella also, the revelations have far-reaching consequences. As her anonymity dissolves, she is drawn inexorably into the lives of her new-found family. She too begins to question the safety and comfort of her old life and to embrace a changing future, laying to rest her mother’s disastrous marriage and eventual suicide, and coming to terms with her own mental fragilities.

As the novel reaches its climax, Steven and his family confront their differences and the reality of his father’s cancer. A chance meeting with an old friend forces Steven to choose between his self-contained safety and the emotional gamble of committing to a relationship. Meanwhile, Stella discovers the story of Celeste and her brief but passionate love affair with Margaret. Past and present collide in Stella’s old family friend, Irene, and the tragic truth of Margaret’s life, loves and death is finally laid bare.

February Competition: Winners and Jude Evans’ Adjudication

 

We were very fortunate to welcome Jude Evans from Little Tiger Press as our adjudicator for February.

The number of entries has grown again this month and was an amazing 42!

Jude’s involvement inspired many members to enter more than once. I was amused by the titles of some of the pieces but I’m sure Jude chose the winners with an expert eye. Jude’s comments are below, her choice of winners is:

1st Place

Sophie by Andy J Steele

2nd Place

Marcelo Wakes the Jungle Up by Kate Prince

3rd Place

Ten Little Acorns by Kristin Tridimas

Highly Commended:

The Monster of the Wood by Rob Iliffe

The Boy who Couldn’t Read by Caroline Meech

Congratulations to all.

I have noticed that some of you are anxious that your entries reach us and sometimes I take a couple of days to reply – apologies. I have set up an automatic reply so that you know your work has got through but I will come back to you ASAP if anything is wrong with your entry.

Next months competition is to write:

A single-page synopsis, any topic. (350 words)

The adjudicator will be Becky Bagnall, literary agent from Lindsay Literary Agency.

Keep writing,

Sharon

 

1st Place

Sophie by Andy J Steele

‘An original and funny story of friendship, rivalry and moral values, Sophie has an unexpected twist that encourages the reader to think twice about jumping to conclusions. The writing is fresh and vibrant, with a fluid, natural rhyming scheme and a delightfully surreal turn of phrase, shown aptly in the stanza:

So now I sit alone,

In a corner of the class,

Where my only friend’s a pencil,

And I don’t think that’ll last.’  Jude Evans.

 

Sophie                        By Andy J Steele

Sophie is so smart.

Sophie is so cool.

Sophie runs a business

at break-times in school.

 

Sophie is so pretty –

and always full of charm.

Everybody likes her;

she’s the Bestest Girl by far.

 

Megan’s Dad’s a lawyer,

but Sophie’s is a rock star.

Dani rides a scooter,

but Sophie owns a car.

 

Sophie’s good at everything.

Sophie’s just the best.

But the more I sit around her,

The more I feel distressed.

 

‘My party was on an island,

way out into the sea.

I found some hungry people

and had them round to tea.

 

‘I gave them all my presents.

They couldn’t thank me more.

They flew us in their spaceship

and left me one to store!’

 

‘Argh!’ I wailed; a desperate sigh.

‘I’ve got a bleeding nose.’

And if I stay around your lies

it’ll surely end in blows.

 

‘I’ve climbed the highest mountain…

I’ve sailed the seven seas…

I’ve got a talking lion…

I walked a bridge made out of bees.

 

‘My best friend’s a princess

in a far and distant land,

where together we’ve made water

from the driest sand.’

 

‘NO – YOU – HAVEN’T!’ I shook my head.

‘I beg of you to stop.

If I hear one more lie from you,

my head might just go POP!’

 

With a hundred faces staring,

She took a bag of sand.

She dropped it in a funnel –

and from it water ran.

 

So now I sit alone,

In a corner of the class,

Where my only friend’s a pencil,

And I don’t think that’ll last.

 

Sophie’s playing football,

She’s taking on all teams

by playing in all positions;

She’s not the liar it seems.

 

She scores a dozen goals,

Appears destined for the squad,

But the teacher doesn’t pick her;

Lily has it by a nod.

 

She sees me watching and comes across;

I try to look away.

‘I know you hate me,’ she starts to say.

‘I hope we’re friends some day.’

 

I can’t stay mad. She’s got That Look.

I hope she doesn’t cry.

‘You’ll get used to losing,

but only if you try.’

 

Now Sophie’s in America;

She might be gone all term,

She’s won the Nobel Peace Prize:

Some people never learn!

 

2nd Place

Marcelo Wakes the Jungle Up by Kate Prince

‘With its unusual cast of characters, including a snub-nose monkey, loris, mouse deer and leopard, this is charming story woven from the intriguing characteristic of the snub-nose monkey hero: that if rain lands on their upturned noses, it makes them sneeze. The characterisation and dialogue are strong and the playful use of language would delight children.’ Jude Evans

 

Marcelo Wakes the Jungle Up By Kate Prince.

DRIP-DROP

DRIP-DROP

SPLISH-SPLOSH

SPLISH-SPLOSH

 

DEEP in the rain forests of Northern Burma, Marcelo the snub-nose monkey and his friends Ramone, the Hog Badger and Clara and Kitty, the Striped-Squirrel twins, were walking to Myanmar Primary School for Jungle Animals, when it started to rain.

 

‘Quick Marcelo take cover!’ Ramone shouted.

 

But it was too late!

 

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooooo!’

 

‘Oh No I’ve started sneezing,’ Marcelo shouted.

 

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooooo!’

Poor Marcelo is allergic to rain!

 

BOX OUT: (optional)

Snub-nose monkeys live in the rain forests of Northern Burma; as well as up-turned noses, which cause them to sneeze when it rains, they have protruding ear tufts, a white moustache and beard.

In the rain they often put their head between their legs to keep dry!

 

‘WHAT ever is this terrible disturbance?’

 

It was Doris the Loris!

 

She did not seem happy.

 

‘This is the second morning you have woken me up,’ she huffed.

 

‘Sorry,’ Marcelo explained, ‘but each time a rain falls on my nose I sneeze.’

And, as if to prove the point, he started to sneeze again

 

Aitishoooooooooooooooo!

 

Ramone and Clara started to laugh but Doris was not amused.

 

As the friends carried on walking, the rain kept getting heavier.

 

DRIP-DROP

DRIP-DROP

SPLISH-SPLOSH

SPLISH-SPLOSH

 

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooo!’

 

Clara handed Marcelo a hankie.

 

‘Excuse me,’ they heard a small voice.

 

It was Deidre the Mouse Deer!

 

‘I’m sorry to bother you but I’m trying to sleep and your sneezes are so loud.’

 

‘sorry,’ he whispered, ‘’l promise I’ll try to stop sneezing.’

 

But, as hard as he tried, Marcelo just could not stop!

 

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooo!’

 

‘Shhhh,’ Kitty whispered, ‘there are some animals that we DEFINITELY DO NOT want to wake up.’

 

They all nodded in agreement.

 

They carried on walking through the undergrowth, past the creek and the crumbling pagodas.

 

Marcelo sneezed and sneezed.

 

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooo!’

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooo!’

 

‘What is this DREADFUL noissssssssssssse?’

 

It was Drake the Snake!

 

‘I am trying to SSSsssnoozze!’ he said.

 

‘Sorry Drake, I mean Mr Snake,’ Ramone replied, ‘we are TRYING really hard to be quiet.’

 

‘Not hard enough now ……Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I want peacccccccccccce and quiet,’ and he slithered grumpily off.

 

‘Let’s hope the snake is the most dangerous animal Marcelo wakes up with his sneezing,’ Clara whispered to Kitty.

 

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooo!’

 

All of a sudden the little group heard a loud and very angry GROWL!

 

‘What is that unbearable racket?’ the voice roared.

 

Very slowly, Ramone, Marcelo, Clara and Kitty looked up.

 

It was Victor the Leopard!

 

He was lounging in a tree.

 

‘Oh no,’ Whispered Kitty.

 

‘I am trying to sleep,’ he roared again angrily.

 

Victor stretched his legs and yawned, flicking his tail in Marcelo’s face. The fur made Marcelo sneeze again.

 

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooo!’

 

‘Is it breakfast time already?’ Victor licked his lips. ‘I’m feeling rather peckish.’

 

‘Quick ………………..RUN. I think the Victor wants to eat us……,’ Ramone shouted.

 

Marcelo, Ramone, Kitty and Clara ran and ran, as fast as they could, until they got to the forest clearing.

 

‘We’ll have to find a different way to school,’ Kitty panted.

 

‘There isn’t one,’ Ramone gasped.

 

‘We’ll have to be very quiet then,’ Clara squealed.

 

They all looked at Marcelo!

 

‘But I can’t help sneezing,’ Marcelo whaled.

 

Later that day, when lessons were over, the friends walked nervously towards the clearing

 

It had started to rain again and poor Marcelo began to sneeze again.

 

‘Aitishoooooooooooooooo!

 

‘Shhhhhhhhhhh,’ his friends shouted.

 

But Doris, Deidre, Drake and Victor were already waiting at the edge of the jungle.

 

‘OH NO WE IS FOR IT NOW,’ Ramone shouted, ‘QUICK … RUN!’

 

‘Wait!’ Deirdre shouted, ‘Please wait. We’ve got Marcelo a present.’

 

And there, on the ground was a brightly coloured umbrella.

 

Marcelo opened it up and waved it over his head.

 

‘It’s Beautiful,’ Marcelo shouted.

 

Clara, Kitty and Romone began to dance under it

 

‘Thisssssssssss might finally give us some sssssssssssssssssssome peace and quiet and I might be able to get some ssssssssssleeeeep,’ Drake muttered.

 

‘And I ‘grumbled Doris.

 

‘Thank you,’ Marcelo shouted, ‘this will definitely stop me from sneezing.

 

‘And I will definitely sleep through breakfast now,’ Victor winked.

 

3rd Place

Ten Little Acorns by Kristin Tridimas

‘Ten Little Acorns is an economical twist on a familiar children’s rhyme, blending elements of fiction and non-fiction in a clever and accessible way. It introduces facts about the life cycle of trees in parallel with a visual narrative showing the development of our human world: how our landscape, our fashions and our homes change down the generations, during the life span of one great oak tree’ Jude Evans

Ten Little Acorns by Kristin Tridimas

Ten Little Acorns

 

Page 3                                                                      Illustrations

Title page.                                                                Picture of oak tree.

 

Spread 1

Page 4

Ten little acorns on an old oak tree,                          Oak tree with 10 acorns.

Brown and ripe and as shiny as can be.

 

Page 5

One little acorn falls on stony ground.                      Acorn on gravel path.  Boy and girl on path

                                                                                 wearing Edwardian

                                                                                 clothes.

 

Spread 2

Page 6 (top)

Leaves nine little acorns hanging around.                Oak tree with 9 acorns.

 

Page 6 (bottom)

Nine little acorns on an old oak tree,

Brown and ripe and as shiny as can be.

 

Page 7

One little acorn is carried away.                               Squirrel taking nut.

                                                                                 Boy and girl watching.

 

 

Spread 3

Page 8 (top)

So eight little acorns are all that stay.                        Oak tree with 8 acorns.

 

Page 8 (bottom)

Eight little acorns on an old oak tree,

Brown and ripe and as shiny as can be.

 

Page 9

One little acorn is pecked by a crow.                        Crow with nut in beak.

                                                                                 Boy and girl play in

                                                                                 background.

 

Spread 4

Page 10 (top)

Seven little acorns hang in a row.                            Oak tree with 7 acorns.

 

Page 10 (bottom)

Seven little acorns on an old oak tree,

Brown and ripe and as shiny as can be.

 

Page 11

One little acorn is used in a game.                            Boy and girl use it as

                                                                                 stone in hopscotch.

 

 

 

 

Spread 5

Page 12 (top)

Leaves six little acorns – what a shame!                    Oak tree with 6 acorns.

 

Page 12 (bottom)

Six little acorns on an old oak tree,

Brown and ripe and as shiny as can be.

 

Page 13

One little acorn’s taken by the flood.                         Torrential rain, gushing

                                                                                 water. In background,

                                                                                 boy and girl are splashing in puddles.

 

Spread 6

Page 14

Five little acorns are left in the mud.                          Tree bare, nuts below.

 

Page 15

Five little acorns grow a tiny shoot.                                   Germination.

Deep in the ground they form a tiny root.

 

Spread 7

Page 16                                                                    Double page -16 &17

Five little acorns now begin to grow,                        Pages divided into four

All through the year in sunshine and in snow.          seasons – seedling gets

                                                                                 a bit bigger in each.

 

Spread 8

Page 18

Five little oak trees reach up to the sky.                   

They want to grow tall and leafy and high.

 

Page 19

One little oak tree’s bitten by the frost.                       Fifth tiny tree, leaves

Leaves four little oak trees and one is lost.               dead and brown, frosty

                                                                                 scene. Girl and boy in

                                                                                 scarves and hats – a bit

                                                                                 bigger – different hair?

 

Spread 9

Page 20 (top)

One year later …

                                    Page 20 (bottom)

Four little oak trees reach up to the sky.

They want to grow tall and leafy and high.

 

Page 21

One little oak tree is trampled and torn.                    Girl and boy playing,

Three little oak trees are left all forlorn.                     accidentally step on

                                                                                 fourth small tree.

 

 

 

 

Spread 10

Page 22 (top)

Twenty years later …

                                                                                

Page 22 (bottom)

Three biggish oak trees reach up to the sky.

Already they’re growing leafy and high.

 

Page 23

One biggish oak tree is cleared for a wall.               Third middle-sized tree

Two biggish oak trees are left to grow tall.                is lying on ground with

                                                                                 man and small girl in

                                                                                 thirties clothes looking at it. There is a big brick

                                                                                 wall and houses behind.

Spread 11

Page 24 (top)

Fifty years later …

                                                                                

Page 24 (bottom)

Two giant oak trees reach up to the sky.

Already they’re growing leafy and high.

 

Page 25

One giant oak tree is chopped down for wood.                Second tall tree being

One lone oak tree grows as big as it should.           sawn up. Big machinery.

                                                                                 Great-grandfather,

                                                                                 grandmother, father and

                                                                                 baby watching. 1980s.

Spread 12

Page 26 (top)

One hundred years later …                                     Double page spread.   Tall oak tree with ten

                                                                                 acorns, like picture p.4

                                                                                 except is in small park

                                                                                 between housing estate and road. Sun shines.

Page 26 (bottom)                                                     A girl and boy in modern clothes play in play area of park.

 One tall oak tree at the edge of the wood,            They are watched by great-grandmother, grandfather and mother.                                                            

Grows ten little acorns and that is good.                      

The sun shines down after plenty of rain.                                                                                    

The acorns swell and we begin again. 

 

 

 

Competition Result, January 2016

Competition January 2016

Write the opening 300 words of a short story based on a song

Our adjudicator for January was Glenn Fosbraey. Glenn joined Winchester University in 2009 where he is instrumental in supporting and expanding his students’ creative skills. He is Programme Leader for both BA (hons) courses Creative Writing and Creative and Professional Writing. Glenn hopes to add a new degree, Popular Music, to the creative writing department next year. The courses in his department have regularly been voted with 100% satisfaction in student surveys.

There were 22 entries this month. Glenn gave a special mention to:

Wendy Fitzgerald, Added character depth, and narrative that went way beyond the song itself; even more of an achievement considering it was only 300 words long.’

And Lou Merlin, A brave, challenging textual intervention on The Kinks’ Lola which made the reader consider gender, society, and acceptance.’

Congratulations to January’s three winners, listed below with Glenn’s comments:

1st place: Claire Fuller

‘The kind of story that keeps a reader thinking about it long after it ends, and one with a multitude of possible meanings and interpretations. A real thought-provoker with the perfect balance between intrigue and information.’

Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night

I hear the sound in the room above mine – the attic: like someone shaking out damp linen or rattling at the wooden shutters. I leave my bed and go upstairs. The blackbird is already dead but still warm in the cup of my hands. In the morning I bury it in the garden between the roots of the mulberry tree. I take a piece of board up to the attic and nail it over the broken window. I’m pleased with my practicality; that I’ve managed to do it without asking Peter.

I eat lunch, carry my spade out to the kitchen garden, forget about the bird.

Later, in the night, I wake to the sound in the room above mine. Like someone shaking out damp linen or rattling at the wooden shutters, or the beating of a bird’s wings. I don’t go up.

The next afternoon when I’m passing the orangery I see the shape of a man silhouetted outside one of the tall glass doors that overlook the ruined parterre – all the box hedges run wild and thistles growing where once there was lavender. He is standing like Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man: legs splayed and arms raised and the image makes me cry out in alarm, but it is only Peter. He opens the door and steps inside. He has a tape-measure in one hand and his clipboard in the other; his pencil stub is tucked behind his ear. He makes no comment about my noise and I think perhaps he didn’t hear it through the glass.

‘Frances,’ he says, as a greeting.

‘There are birds in the attic,’ I say. ‘Perhaps you could take a look?’

‘Of course. Did you hear the blackbird in the middle of the night?’ he says. ‘It was singing in the mulberry tree.’

 

2nd place: Andrea Parr:

‘A story with wonderful description that wholeheartedly immerses the reader in the place and time. Questions are posed but not answered, and we hang on to every word, almost compelling us to re-read and see if there is anything we might have missed.’

Walking in Memphis

So far, nothing about the trip had gone to plan. From the plane, the mighty Mississippi had been a strand of blue cotton winding up from the sea. It hadn’t glinted once in the dull afternoon light.

She’d expected old world charm; besuited gentleman with welcoming southern drawls; the gentle waft of Blues in the background. What she got was blue neon and a floor so polished, it was painful to look at. There was no music at all, not even that piped stuff James always hated. It was like airports the world over and, sitting flat and insignificant amongst endless white columns, she watched fat raindrops burst against the window. The whole time, James was in her head, his face rigid with scorn. Pressing her fingers to her aching eyes, she wondered why she’d come.

“Nice shoes.”

A man she hadn’t heard approach was sitting next to her, his face half lost to a pair of magnificent sideburns, his eyes fixed firmly on the three inch heels she’d begun to regret wearing. In the bright airport light, the suede exactly matched the blue of his gaze. As she gawped back up, he smiled, his teeth very white in his tanned face, and winked.

“You oughta see the park.”

Less than an hour later, she was leaning against the smooth trunk of a spreading tree, staring upwards, wondering how he’d known. Above her, the dapper figure of WC Handy gazed benignly into middle distance, trumpet clutched in both hands and, for the first time since she’d arrived, James’ voice in her head fell silent. Raindrops pattered through the leaves and ran like tears down her upturned face. In the silence, she felt like singing. Her heels clicked loudly as she turned.

Time to see what Memphis had to offer.

 

3rd place: Linda Welch.

‘The lyrics are expertly threaded into the narrative, and a story that is enormous in its subtext is presented here only in its gloriously bare bones, forcing the reader to chase its shadows back to the song in search for clues.’

Salvation

I may be reckless, but I’m not stupid. Internet protocol dictates that the first time you meet someone, you make it somewhere public.

So I had chosen a bar in town, busy, but not too crowded, and positioned myself in a far corner so that I could watch for him to arrive. I didn’t have long to wait. As soon as the door opened, I knew it was him. I felt the same rush I had when he’d opened a private chat window with me for the first time: it was as if all the air had been sucked out of my lungs and replaced with pure amyl nitrite. I felt a stupid grin crease my face, I couldn’t help it.

He hadn’t seen me, he probably thought I wasn’t there yet. He was earlier than we’d agreed, maybe he’d wanted to do what I was doing: watch, assess, evaluate before committing. The first step towards salvation can be a daunting one. All conversation seemed to dim around him as he made his way to the bar and heads turned, both male and female. He was a good-looking man, and the cut of his suit, the subtle gold signet ring and his commanding presence marked him out as someone of wealth and taste. As he glanced around the room, I saw weariness and pain in his eyes, reflecting what he had told me in the private chat window. He had seen so much suffering and sorrow, violence and desolation, and I was the only one who could take that burden from him. I walked over to him and held out my hand to shake his.

‘Pleased to meet you,’ he said. ‘I hope you’ve guessed my name?’

‘Luc,’ I nodded. ‘And you can call me J.C.’

 

DON’T FORGET: The adjudicator for February is Jude Evans from Little Tiger Press and the competition asks for:

A picture book text, fiction or non-fiction, in prose or rhyme aimed at children 2-7 years. 750 words max.

Send no illustration samples.

Adjudicator: Jude Evans from Little Tiger Press

Deadline noon 1st February 2016

December Writing Competition Report

Competition Report by Sharon Garrett
Our adjudicator for the December competition was Harper Press’ acclaimed author Daniel Clay. As well as being nominated in 2008 as one of Amazon’s best eight debut novels, his novel Broken was shortlisted for the Best First Novel Award by both The Commonwealth Writers’ and The Authors’ Club. It was made into a film by BBC Films. His second novel is SWAP.
Daniel’s comments:

Thanks to everyone who sent entries in.  There were 33 in total and, as with the last time I judged a HWS competition, I thought the standard of writing was excellent.  I also really enjoyed the diversity of the entries, with very few writers choosing to write about the same themes and those who did taking very different approaches.
I found picking a shortlist almost impossible; after reading through each entry a couple of times I began to discard any which definitely weren’t going to make my final five, and even though I discarded plenty I really rated, I was still left with thirteen to choose from, so, if your story isn’t among the ones mentioned here, please don’t think it means I didn’t enjoy reading it, especially The Walking Shadow by David Lea, Hack Gang by Sally Howard, Seal the Book by Jane Howard and Spy by Rebecca Welton, all of which really impressed me.

My two picks for highly commended are Tell No One by Linda Welch and The Road to Amber by James Lee, both of which were well written and well paced and left me with a sense there were full-blown stories to follow.  In each case, I felt the story was going a certain way, yet each ended on a totally different note, which is a great demonstration of talent over only 300 words.

In third place, Sold, by Kristin Tridimas, really stood out from first read-through.  I was really impressed by the depth of character motivation, with Kristin making sure the main character, Jenna, had good reason to be somewhere she shouldn’t be and then good reason to investigate what was going on there.  Small details – such as Jenna unthinkingly using the torch on her phone – rang true for a character of school-age, whereas I’d have stumbled around in the dark, completely forgetting to use the app on my phone.  Also, I thought, the title was brilliant in terms of telling part of the story; had it not been called Sold, I think it would have been impossible for the last two lines to carry the emotional weight that they did.

In second place, The Changeling, by Scott Goldie, opens with an arresting line, but then builds to an even better closing line which promises a great story to follow for any horror fans out there.  In-between, I really enjoyed the descriptive writing; terms such as ‘blade of moonlight’, ‘betraying creak’, ‘stroked its prize’ were perfect for the mood being set.  I especially enjoyed the use of the word ‘cooing’ in such a different context to usual.  I’ll certainly never coo over a baby again!

My winner, though, is Teaser by Sally Russell.  As with Kristin’s story, Sally has done a great job giving her main character good reason to stumble across the secret she uncovers and also gives us enough back-story to understand why Chloe feels betrayed by what she has seen.  Kamara’s gloating, when confronted, is a brilliant example of show, not tell, and Chloe’s jubilation at finding her friend’s weak-spot right at the death, struck me as superb. I especially loved the description of the dusty window of an art room door, like see-through graph paper, scored with lines, which gave the opening’s pivotal scene a real edge of realism and left me feeling as if I was standing behind Chloe, seeing everything Chloe could see.

Daniel was a pleasure to work with and wanted to add that he does try to help anyone who gets in touch. The site is danielclaywriter.co.uk where the Q&A section is great as there’s some really good advice in there from a couple of top agents and writers, plus the writers have also shared their successful slush-pile letters and synopses.
The winning entries were:

First Place – Teaser by Sally Russell

‘I saw you.’

‘What? Where?’ Kamara glanced at me from under her blackened eyelashes.

‘You know where. Last night. After school.’ I was gratified to see the flush creeping up from her neck. ‘You can’t do that.’

‘Why?’

‘ ‘Cos he’s mine.’

For three years, since I was (even I admit it) a pimply red-haired thirteen-year-old, I had harboured lustful thoughts about Mr Dyer. Most cool art teacher ever. Now, my new bezzie, Kamara, had got there first.

The previous evening I had left my iPod in my art room locker. I had gone back to rescue it from the thieving fingers that haunted Western High in the evening shadows. I had gripped the door handle, then paused. Mr Dyer and Kamara were standing by the store cupboard. He touched her. He stroked her hair. I could only just see them as I peered through the dusty window of the art room door. The glass was like see-through graph paper, scored with lines. It was smudged with the mucky fingerprints of the budding art students who pushed it open every day.

Except last night it was locked.

I felt sick.

‘Jealous, Chloe?’ Kamara smirked.

‘Just don’t go there.’

She laughed. It grated on my nerves.

‘Kev and I are in love.’

‘Kev? Kev!’ I seethed. I looked at her raven hair, her olive skin. No amount of conditioner or hair-straighteners ever tamed my auburn mane. I felt my nails dig hard into my palms.

‘Didn’t you know that’s his name?’

‘You’ve only been here since Christmas.’ It sounded lame, even to me. ‘And you’re younger than me.’

‘I’m sixteen in August.’

‘Aren’t you supposed to have an arranged marriage?’

‘Not gonna happen.’

‘No, it won’t. Not when your brothers find out.’

Kamara blinked.

Got her, I thought.

 

Second Place – The Changeling, by Scott Goldie

When my sister Lucy was six months old, she was stolen. Only I know she is gone because only I saw the awful creature that took her.

When I woke that night, I knew something was wrong. I have always trusted my instincts. My grandmother would say I was touched.

I knew it was the creature I had glimpsed a few nights before. I also knew why it had come.

Lucy.

My room was black, except for a thin blade of moonlight cutting across my desk.

I lay there for a moment, shivering slightly. I had no wish to see the creature up close.

However, I tugged at the duvet, sent it whispering across the bed, and levered myself up. The frame creaked as my weight left it. I prayed the noise would go unnoticed.

My bare feet glided across the floorboards. I pulled at my bedroom door. My teeth clenched, anticipating a betraying creak.

It never came.

I moved towards the open doorway of Lucy’s room, saw that the window was thrown open, letting in a cool breeze, making the curtains billow. I crossed to her cot. A shadowy bundle lay there.

It was Lucy, sound asleep. I let out the breath I’d been holding and leaned against the cot.

A strange cooing snatched my attention. A figure was perched on the windowsill, silhouetted in the moonlight. Hunched over, knees folded up to its chest, its long arms clutched something wrapped in a blanket.

Lucy.

It stroked its prize with a long finger, cooed again, wide mouth filled with pointed teeth. I blinked and it had gone.

A terrible, icy feeling gripped me. I had no doubt that it had taken my sister.

But then, if it had Lucy, what now slept in her cot?

 

Third Place – Sold by Kristin Tridimas

Jenna had time on her hands.  College was over for the day.

She couldn’t go home and risk walking in on Mum and Beer Belly Dave bonking on the sofa.  The sight had scarred her for life.  Not to mention it now meant the sofa was definitely a no-go area.

Her friends Rachel and Ted were stuck in the science labs for another hour.

Their fault for choosing chemistry.  When they were eventually free, the three of them would go down to town to Mike’s Cafe, drink hot chocolate and attempt to hear each other over the chatter.  So there was no point going townwards.

She did what she always did and headed up the hill to stare at the big stone building which had once been the object of her dreams.  As soon as she knew she wanted to be a newspaper reporter, she also knew that one day she would work in those offices.  Except she was wrong.  Penchester Gazette had closed down a year ago.  Before she’d even had time to do work experience.

She stared at the boarded up windows.

Suddenly, she saw movement.

A corner twitched.

A flash of pink.

She crossed over to look more closely.

Something was drawing her in.  A journalistic instinct.

Her heart thumped as she lifted the loose board.  Peered into the gloom.

Ghostlike empty desks.  They taunted her with what might have been.

Her eyes adjusted.

Something moved behind one of the desks.

“Hello,” she whispered.

And then she did something that she would never normally do.  Lifting the board, she climbed in.  Switched on the torch on her phone.  Crept towards the back.

Crouching behind a desk, looking at her with terrified eyes, was an Asian girl.

The girl shrank back.  “Please,” she begged.

 

Don’t forget the January competition: Write the opening of a short story, based on a song.

300 words. Deadline: noon 1st January.

October 2015 Competition Winners

Write a Ghost Story – 300 words

We were very lucky to have as our adjudicator last night Carolin Esser-Miles, Medievalist, and Senior Lecturer, English Language at the University of Winchester.

Carolin was the perfect choice for adjudicator as her interests are fantasy, horror and the supernatural. She said she was looking for certain factors in the stories – one of these was to be frightened, but she was surprised by the number of entries where love was used as the main element for the ghost story. Carolin said she enjoyed reading the entries very much, and invited all those who had entered to talk to her about their work at the end of the meeting.

Carolin’s Adjudication:

1st Place: Louise Morrish, Lest We Forget

“Lest we forget follows a slow pace, but one which is fitting for the dreary inevitability that imprisons both the narrator and his ghost. Both are beyond terror, and suspense is not what drives this story for the readers either. What makes this story special is that in all its horror and pain it is a story about forgiveness, and about letting go of the ghosts we can, by owning up, by giving up our defences and asking for help. Again, this is no story of bravery, but of nothing left to fight. And that makes it so human, so real. And in the middle of all that we find a miracle: forgiveness. But the story remains true. Some ghosts continue to haunt us no matter what we do.

The story’s message is as profound as it is simple. Telling it in 300 words takes skill.”

2nd Place: Paul Beattie, Ghost Train

“One of the most suspenseful stories in the competition, Ghost Train plays with conventions in humorous way. The short sentence structures and frequent and quick shifts in perspective and train of thought of our preoccupied narrator prevent the reader from analysing too closely until the conceit is complete. What is particularly interesting is that the conceit, in fact, is again the classic stereotype which we all looked out for in the beginning and from which we got side tracked. A brief survey of readers highlights the effectiveness of the ending: a tongue in cheek acknowledgement – ‘Of course not’ – of what we should have known all along. He is the Kennington Ghost, and there he stays.”

3rd Place: Wendy Fitzgerald, It Comes to Us All (pseudonym Jane Adams)

“A lot of us tend to be rather melodramatic when it comes to death and ghosts. ‘It comes to us All’ acknowledges that – through capitalisation of the Big Words, through hints at a possible violent death. Its focus, however, stays firmly on the ordinary. Our waiting ghosts are not impatient ghosts. The emotions that prevail are acceptance and even a sense of peace, though maybe more that of a shared moment of respite between two attacks. The story is skilfully written and flows calmly and naturally. It is complete as it is, as a vignette, but it can equally lead into a short story or even a novel. Amongst all the clichés, this is a story of love, and it teaches us a valuable lesson, not through regret, but through example: How to live one’s life in the moment.”

Highly Commended: Louise Morrish, Abominable

“The story plays with the literary register of seafaring novels in the frame of Melville or Conrad well. A leisurely pace comes to a more intensified delivery just in time for a sudden realisation of an inescapable fate that grips the reader with cold, clammy hands around their throat.”

Highly Commended: Gill Hollands, Devotion (pseudonym Lily Collins)

“Devotion packs a very important message into 300 short words. It is a story about love, and about the right person being there to help and care.  It works because of exact timings, sketched hints and fitting clues. With just a little more space to help the reader follow through the various cognitive jumps this will be a very powerful story.”

 

Prizes and Awards:

The prizes were signed books by James Barclay as well as certificates of adjudication by Carolin Esser-Miles.

 

1st Place: Lest We Forget – Copyright © Louise Morrish, 2015

Last night the soldier came to me again, a vision in mud. I could hear his slow, rasping breaths, the sound louder than the gale outside rattling the window panes, and it was this that woke me. There he stood, in the shadows at the foot of my bed, dark and unmoving. The reek of the trenches came off him, a poisonous mix of rancid mud, rotting flesh, and the burnt tang of cordite. The smell caught at the back of my throat, familiar and dreadful, taking me straight back to that hell.

He didn’t speak, but he had no need to; we both knew the reason he came, every year, without fail. The events of that fateful day are seared on my brain, the sights we both witnessed burnt into my memory for ever more.

There was no need for words at all, German or English.

The match flame shook as I lit a candle. I knew I wouldn’t sleep again, and self-pity brought hot tears to my eyes. I was tired to my bones already, without this.

I think it must have been exhaustion that made me do what I did next. Now, in the pale light of a new morning, I truly can’t believe I had the nerve.

‘I’m sorry,’ I said, my voice all but drowned by the soldier’s laboured breaths. ‘Forgive me, please.’

A silence fell; even the glass in the window ceased its rattle.

It was as though I had spoken a charm. His presence, that had filled my thoughts and dreams for so long, began to ebb away. Gradually, his form dissolved into the shadows, and the room threw off its strange chill.

Until all that remained was the sickly sour reek of the trenches.

But that, I fear, will never leave me.

 

2nd Place: Ghost Train – Copyright © Paul Beattie, 2015

The red light stares stubbornly from the darkness, the glimmer picking out a few frames of the tunnel’s structure. Held in the Loop. You can be stuck here for hours waiting for a signal to release you. Well, it seems like it, buried somewhere deep on the Northern Line between Kennington and the Oval. Soon be heading back to Charing Cross and the shift’s end, nothing to do but wait. The old lags tease the youngsters about the Kennington ghosts; bodies unearthed when building the line, lost trackmen in the tunnels. All nonsense of course.

My shoulders stiffen; it’s just the muffled drumming of a train somewhere in the dark. The signal will change soon, it must. My palm, glued to the control leaver, is getting sweaty. It’s always warm down in the deep. No. It’s cold. I can see my breath in front of me. The heater must have packed up. Come on, come on. What’s taking so long? Damn the bloody signals!

What was that? A connecting door just slammed. Must have left it open when I checked my carriages were empty, the vibrations of that train must have made it shut. Hah! Kennington Ghost you old fool! Hang on, that was another door, closer. Surely I can’t have missed a passenger. Bloody hell it’s getting cold in here. Come on, change damn you!

That was the door to the last carriage, it had to be. Did I lock the driver’s door? There’s footsteps. Please change, please. Green! Oh thank you God! The brake won’t release, it’s jammed! I can’t move it, my hand keeps slipping off.

My door slams open…It’s Harry.

“Bloody hell Harry! I thought you were the Kennington Ghost!”

He doesn’t see me. Of course not, I’m the Kennington Ghost, and here I stay.

 

3rd Place: It Comes to Us All – Copyright © Wendy Fitzgerald, 2015

You’d think they’d hear us, as they pass through the graveyard; laying their flowers, indulging in their tears – oh, I suppose we’ve got rather blasé about it, but we’ve seen it so often, believe me!   But yes, it’s been a while since I stopped off here, pausing on my Way.  We sit around, often on that very bench that you rest on, gossiping and bickering loudly about the injustices of Life.

That’s why I am still here.  A spirit, a ghost – whatever you might like to call me – I still have burning issues.  But today, Mrs Thomas and I are simply watching the grave-digger as he works.   Mrs Thomas is expecting her husband to join her soon, and then she can Pass properly.  She simply could not bear to Leave without him.  It never fails to astound me the deep and profound love that one human being can have for another – sometimes I feel it almost outweighs the hatred and evil that I so often saw in Life.

Mrs Thomas watches the earthly man at work, with some satisfaction.  His burly arms wielding the spade; the sweat on his brow.   It won’t be long now.  She tells me an anecdote about her wedding day, and I smile with her.  I wish that mine had been so joyous – but I was Taken way before my time and won’t Rest until I see my worldly remains discovered – or at least see my fiancées lovely face again.  Whatever you may have heard, we cannot avenge – but we can simply wait for our loved ones to catch us up.

The earthly man has finished his task; Mrs Thomas sits back, contented.

And now Mr Thomas stores his spade, washes his hands, and leaves unsuspectingly for home.

 

In Conclusion:

The competition secretary, Sharon Garrett, thanked the adjudicator for doing a splendid job, and asked her to come back soon. Carolin said she would be delighted. Sharon thanked everyone who had entered, and noted that once again, with 19 entries, the ‘Ghost Story’ competition had proved very popular with our members.

The competition for November is to write the first 300 words of a general women’s novel. The adjudicator will be Judith Murdoch, of Judith Murdoch Literary Agency.

Please email your entries to the Competition Secretary, Sharon Garrett competitions.hwsAThotmail.com by noon (GMT) 1st November 2015. (Please replace AT with @)

Please read HWS Competition rules

September 2015 Competition Winners

Write a Scene in which the Victim of the Crime is Found

Our adjudicator was Carl Major, of Waterstones, West Quay, Southampton, and although Carl was unable to be with us he said he thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries. Carl’s criteria and adjudications follow:

“Firstly, I was very grateful for being asked to judge this competition. Booksellers – like book browsers – see a lot of books and read a lot of first pages. If a reader has got as far as reading the first few sentences of a book or scene it is worth considering the things they might be subconsciously weighing up about the writing and the writer. The main one must be ‘Is this a story or writer I am intrigued enough to commit money and (more importantly) time to reading?’ The temptation is to grab at the reader with a ‘hooking’ sensational opening or the imagined vividness of the first person. But often – for this reader, at least – it is a kind of confidence in the grasp of the writer and that could be a nice touch of humour, a willingness to trust the reader with a gradual revelation, a telling and interesting detail or simply some small grace of language or observation. I think the reader always wants to know that whatever horrors or twists the story may contain that they are in good hands and often it is the small detail of the writing rather than the sensational content that provides the reassurance. I felt the three winners here all absolutely knew that and put it firmly into practice. It is no small skill. In the case of these three writers I was disappointed that I only had 300 words and would happily have trusted them to lead me on into the world behind this scene.”

Carl’s Adjudication:

1st Place: David Eadsforth, (pseudonym Alec Russell) The Artist

“Extremely well-crafted. The unsensational language heightened the gruesome revelation. Much information about the place and personnel conveyed in passing – and a welcome levening of dark humour! My feeling was that I was in the safe hands of a writer fully in charge of their subject and style. I immediately wanted to know more and read on.”  

2nd Place: David Lea, Home to Roost

“Conjured the protagonist’s world in a few deft strokes. The mix of humour and grim detail of Jason’s job set up a scenario in which the discovery of a body was somehow of a piece with the violence of industrial farming. I valued the detail of this writing and the skill of the writer in allowing the content rather than the language to provide the sensational effect”.

3rd Place: Anne Eckersley, Too Soon to Die

“This piece intrigued me from the first mention of the missing street lights. I believed the scene I was seeing had a real social context. I felt certain that in this writer’s world murder victims, murderers and police would have a wider context of family, friends, society. The plausible weariness of our protagonist and the deft use of ironic humour sealed the deal. I wanted to read on.”

 

Highly Commended: Louise Morrish, Dogsbody

Highly Commended: Avril Stephenson, Untitled

 

Prizes and Awards:

The lucky winners each received two signed books by our main speakers, James Marrison and MJ Arlidge as well as certificates of adjudication by Carl Major.

Anne Eckersley, David Eadsforth & David Lea
Anne Eckersley, David Eadsforth & David Lea

1st Place: The Artist – Copyright © David Eadsforth, 2015

Detective Inspector Ian Chambers stepped out of his car and stared at the blank wall that comprised the front of the industrial unit.  Of all of the crime scenes he had been called to in his career, this would probably have been the least likely candidate.  Detective Sergeant Terman, who had been waiting by the entrance, now approached him.

“Good morning, Sir; sorry it was such an early call, but the shift here starts early…”

Chambers nodded and waved his subordinate to silence.

“Okay, okay; what have we got?”

Terman hesitated.

“Um, I think you just better see for yourself, Sir.”

Chambers shot him a dubious look.

“The last time you said that it was a naked curate with a plastic bag over his head and a noose around his neck…”

“This is a bit different, Sir.”

Terman led the way through the entrance and on to a series of huge doors, around which stood a number of men in white overalls.  Chambers nodded to the chief of the forensic team, a man in his fifties who wore a somewhat grim expression.

“Morning, Alfred; well, what have you got for me?”

Alfred Bingham did not reply, but instead grasped the huge lever that was placed on the front of the door and swung it open.  A gust of bitterly cold air hit Chambers’s face and Bingham indicated that Chambers should enter.  Chambers entered the huge refrigerator and stared at the vision before him.  In the centre of the chamber stood a huge block of ice, two meters square, and inside it was the naked form of a man, his arms and legs stretched out in an ‘X’.  Chambers was silent for a few seconds, then he turned to Bingham.

“Um, we’re not calling this suicide, are we?”

 

2nd Place: Home to Roost – Copyright © David Lea, 2015

Jason had started at 6:30, as he did every day during the holidays: out of bed by 5:45, cup of coffee, cereal, on his bike and away. No need of a wash because he had bathed very thoroughly the night before. He bathed very thoroughly every night, lying in the suds, knackered and dreaming while his mum and his sister watched the tele down stairs. He dreamed of a future when he wouldn’t have to work on Guy Featherstone’s farm, a future when he could afford a motorbike, or even a car. When he could afford some decent clothes.

When he could afford a girlfriend.

Girlfriends are costly.

Anyway, he smelled.

By 8 0’ clock he had almost finished the cleaning. The electric lights were on eighteen hours a day to give maximum laying time, so it was already hot. The hens were housed in rows of metal cages three tiers high, with three or four birds to a cage. Four long alleyways of birds, all shrieking and squalling and pecking. And shitting.  But Jason’s first job before the shit shifting was to remove the bodies – five or six a day. They were so bored and cramped and demented that they pecked each other to death. It usually started when one bird was laying an egg and the other birds pecked around the hole as the egg squeezed out. Jason wondered how they decided which one to attack. Perhaps they chose the weakest, like at school.

Although Jason was a loner, nobody messed with him.

He trundled the awkward, overloaded shit- machine to the trapdoor and pulled the lever to release its load onto the pile below.

It was then he noticed the leg, naked and white.

Except for the Argyll pattern sock.

And then it disappeared under the slurry.

 

3rd Place: Too Soon to Die – Copyright © Anne Eckersley, 2015

This tax year council savings and vandalism had turned off all street lights in Woodley, so just before midnight Longmoor Road was as dull as a dead man’s eyes.  But death in Jonas’ world rarely occurred in broad daylight.

The rain had stopped. Puddles the size of lakes and the stench of sewage its legacy.

Jonas shivered. He wasn’t cold, thick jumpers, waterproof trousers and heavy boots made sure of that.  Parking between two police cars he headed towards the motorway flyover. The noise of cars passing overhead amplified by the silence of the night.

Signs warned of danger of death from the electricity substation or the risk of prosecution from trespass although missing sections of fence provided easy access. The area had always attracted graffiti artists and the homeless who clearly ignored the signs too, but then rising water levels over the winter should have worried them more.

The police hadn’t bothered to open the gate and Jonas opted for the shorter route too. His phone’s torch helped him pick his way through floating debris to the blue and white tape stretched round the scene.

A tent had been erected at the river’s edge. A number of silhouetted figures were moving around. Jonas sighed. He would have liked to be alone to assess the scene before anyone demanded answers or foisted information on him. Those first few minutes were crucial. The position of the body. The arrangement of the clothes.  Seventeen series of Silent Witness had a lot to answer for. Nowadays everyone in the country was qualified to express an opinion.

A noise on his left made him spin. Suddenly he was face to face with four bundles huddled round a shopping trolley and several cardboard boxes who were watching his progress with evident interest.

 

In Conclusion:

The competition secretary, Jim Livesey, thanked everyone who had entered. Crime proved very popular as 18 entries were received, a good start to our new season.

The competition for October is to write a ghost story – 300 words and the adjudicator will be Carolin Esser-Miles, Medievalist, and Senior Lecturer, English Language, University of Winchester.

Please email your entries to the Competition Secretary, Jim Livesey competitions.hwsAThotmail.com by noon (BST) 1st October 2015. (Please replace AT with @)

Please read HWS Competition rules

HWS – End of Year Reports 11th June 2013

Report from Events  Secretary, David Eadsforth

The second season of the HWS offered its members an eclectic range of speakers and topics.  The ten events comprised: two famous crime novelists, including PD James; a comedy novel writer, a travel writer, two poets, two history authors, a screenwriter, a literary agent, the curator of the Charles Dickens Museum and a performance artist.  And several of the speakers had careers in a numbers of areas, which gave them particularly penetrating insights into their chosen subject.  It was clear that, whatever the subject, the members found all of the talks to be both fascinating and useful.  Perhaps the best feature of all of the talks was the sheer enjoyment experienced by both speaker and audience; it has been highly rewarding to be able to tell a prospective speaker “we’re a friendly bunch” and to have this proved time after time.

The 2013-14 season is now shaping up to be just as varied and interesting; if you have not yet reserved the second Tuesday of each month in your diary, then do so now…

 

Report  from Competition Secretary, Hermione Laake

We have had an interesting and productive year for competitions. There has been a very good response to our competitions, with up to 20 entries coming in per month.

Once again we have been able to offer free entry to competitions, and we have been given some wonderful book prizes to pass on to our winners.

Memorably, a particular writer’s insight into the disabled sensibility has been highlighted by adjudicators; that is the writing of Anthony Ridgway.

More recently we have been able to offer a token of thanks to our adjudicators. In many ways our adjudicators are the object of our desire when we put pen to paper; they represent the culmination of all our efforts as writers, since they are our readers, and we are very grateful for their learned judgement in their specific disciplines.

We have continued to grow and improve together (we are currently refining our rules and improving our communication), and we look forward to some exciting new adjudicators and some challenging and enjoyable competitions in the coming year ahead.

 

Report from Liaison Officer, Dr Gary Farnell

2012-13 has been a busy year in terms of Liaison at the Hampshire Writers’Society. Liaison has been mainly with the following:

1) the University of Winchester

2) Winchester City Council

3) Hampshire County Council

But it has spread from the local to the regional and, indeed, the national level as well (including liaison with the National Association of Writers in Education, for example).

The Liaison role within the Society has also entailed ‘liaison’ in the sense of acting as moderator at each of the monthly Society meetings, thus ‘liaising’ between the invited speaker and the audience in the post-talk discussions.

Similarly Liaison in the above sense has also been with future invited speakers for the 2013-14 programme of the Society. It is good to see that, at this point in June 2013, next year’s programme is almost complete. Forward planning is at a more advanced stage than it was at this time last year. And this is due to the combined efforts of the now-expanded Steering Committee of the Hampshire Writers’ Society.

 

Report from Publicity Secretary, Carole Hastings

Across this year we have increased our publicity coverage to sixty different locations or outlets. We have posters in a number of venues – colleges, libraries, bookshops and various other places. I also make contact by email to local press and writing groups cross the county and I’m happy to add more interested parties to my monthly mailings so contact me on:mrshastings@btopenworld.com and I will oblige.

 

Report from Membership Secretary, Karin Groves

This season 2012/2013, membership numbers rose to 129 members, which was an increase of 22% on the previous year. Members travel from many parts of Hampshire and surrounding counties: Dorset, Wiltshire, Surrey, Berkshire, West Sussex, and London to the monthly events in Winchester.
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.

 

Subscriptions for 2013/14

We are able to offer a special discount price of £25 until end of June for 2013/14 Membership of  HWS. (Sign-up ASAP, if you haven’t already!) Please note: from July, membership subscriptions will be £30. Students are free on production of a student card. Non-members pay £5 per evening.

All exceptional value for 10 monthly informative and entertaining evenings with well-known authors, novelists, commissioning editors, literary agents poets, journalists, playwrights, screenwriters and industry specialists.

You can subscribe or renew membership on the HWS stand at the Winchester Writers’ Conference or you can contact the membership secretary by email: membership.hws@hotmail.co.uk

The next HWS event will be on Tuesday 10th September in the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester when Andrew Taylor – crime and historical novelist – talks about crime fiction – Living to Write and Writing to Live and the special guest is John Apta, Chairman of the Police Federation.

We welcome ideas or suggestions for speakers, topics, activities or events, and we are always looking for members who would like to take an active role in the organisation of the HWS. You may wish to contact the HWS Chairman,Barbara.Large@winchester.ac.uk or for more information about joining the HWS, please email Karin, membership.hws@hotmail.co.uk  or get in touch via Hampshire Writers’ Society Facebook page.