Five Research Tips from this Season’s Speakers

  1. Go Outside – Kate Mosse told us that settings and places that fascinate her are key to her writing success. Taxidermists-Daughter-mmp-217x327Whatever the weather, she stands in her setting, lets her imagination run riot and listens to the voices of those who have passed through the place before her. OK; so you may not be able to stand in exactly the right place, especially if you’re writing Sci Fi, but you get the idea – woodland in the rain, sandy beach in the wind, any stately home, castle or gallery may do and even a car park in hot sunshine. ‘See the vista through their eyes.’ Chris Cleave told us of his characters. As James Marrison suggests; a good walk is soothing when the writing gets tough.
  2. Take the Kids? – Della Galton admitted that much of her writing is driven by emotion. Children are good at provoking an emotional response in us. Yes, cinemas still have Saturday morning clubs – feel free to get emotional; the kids do. Children also have the ability to overlook the macabre in the most natural way, take weirdness in their stride and come up with the original character names. Children are valuable tickets to ‘hands on’ research and ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses that, for some reason museums don’t hand to adults.
  3. Have a nice day! – High Fantasy Author James Barclay gave us a master class in world building and battle creation in which ‘Be Realistic’ was his advice, ‘A peasant is most unlikely to defeat an experienced fighter’. ElvesBeyondtheMistsofKaturaIndividual guides dotted around historic sites or animal park keepers are only too keen to depart with their knowledge. Don’t be shy about asking them either they spend most of their time with people who don’t need to know and then you come along wanting nothing more than to hear their stories. You may not come away with a file full of research, but you’ll most likely pick up a snippet and definitely a feeling.
  4. Volunteer – ‘Put yourself in your reader’s shoes.’ said Jude Evans of Little Tiger Press. ‘Know your market.’ The Library’s annual Summer Reading Challenge plunges children’s writers right in the middle of their target market. Volunteers are needed to man the Reading Challenge desk where you will need to quiz the readers. If you don’t come away with a clear idea of the literary needs of your chosen age range then you haven’t been listening to your market.
  5. Rain stops play? – ‘You’re only really listening to the conversation when you’re not in it’ said Chris Cleave. Clare Morrall told us that dialogue is often underestimated as an aspect of bringing characters to life. WhentheFloodsCame‘Absorb the voices around you and let a hint of the waffle remain for believability’, she advises. So, buy a coffee and nurse it till its cold whilst you listen in on the conversations around you. ‘Carry out your market research.’ said Della Galton. Sit in a waiting room and read the magazines.

Round Up

Report by Lisa Nightingale

1BookFair2016Fourteen book sellers lined the Annual Members’ Book Fair finishing off the Hampshire Writers’ Society’s fifth successful season. Keep an eye on this blog for their details.

It’s been an inspirational year! Talks came from High Fantasy Author James Barclay, Crime Writer M J Arlidge, Kate Walker on her Twelve-point Guide to Romance and Children’s Author Steve Voake. In between these we fitted in a short story masterclass with Della Galton. Screenwriter Robin Mukherjee will be returning as an adjudicator in September’s free competition.

Kate Mosse shared her writing secrets in May and in June Clare Morrall joined Chris Cleave who came over all weird! EveryoneBraveisForgiven

Our competitions this year have been judged by among others; Author Allie Spencer and Adrienne Dines, Emma Scattergood, Senior Lecturer in School of Journalism, English and Communication at University of Bournemouth and Winchester University’s Creative Writing Degree Programme Leader Glenn Fosbraey.

Simon Trewin of WME
Simon Trewin of WME

Our mission is to encourage writers of any style or standard introducing them to Publishing World Professionals. We’ve had talks from Literary Agent Simon Trewin and Little Tiger Press Publisher Jude Evans.

Next season’s programme is all but finalized. Renowned Comics Writer Pat Mills, Historical Romance Writer Adele Parks, Cosy Crime Writer Simon Brett and Women’s Saga Writer Margaret Graham will be joining us. We’ll also talk poetry with Maura Dooley and Maggie Sawkins, short stories with Clare Hey and Radio Programmes with Whistledown’s David Prest.

 

February Meeting Report – Jude Evans

JudeEvansFeb2016

Happy 30th Birthday, Little Tiger Press!

Publishing is exciting and challenging,’  says Jude Evans ‘It’s a good time to be writing.’

The range of reading products for children is rich and diverse with YA, a huge crossover.

Jude could not stress enough: ‘know your market.’

Know your audience.

Get to know the interests of your chosen age range and remain reflective of a broader society.

At Little Tiger Press, the character is the key.

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Think; what is my book (super commercial, literate, contemporary) therefore, what is its ‘tone’? It is essential that the opening hook them in.

It is our aim that children WANT to read. We are introducing them to the ‘magic’ of words.

You should consider the ‘travel’ of your story – how will it translate into other cultures?

When you’ve finished your manuscript. Put it away for a while – when you return to it, you’ll be able to remain objective. Also ask for the opinions of it from those most valuable to your progress.

Then, think like a Publisher. An agent will already have a familiar relationship with publishers and will negotiate on your behalf.

Your covering letter should be brief and pertinent.

Your synopsis; no more than two sides. Don’t bombard agents/publishers.

DON’T GIVE UP. It can take weeks before you receive a reply.

Investing in business cards might be opportune. Use them in conjunction with your manuscript or a conversation – don’t just drop them willy-nilly at book fairs.

Jude signing books
Jude signing books in the Stripe foyer

Finally, Jude issued an invitation to all of us present!

For full report –  see the members’ Newsletter. Not a member? Join us for only £20.

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.