Wednesday, 29 April 2009
A beautiful morning at the Olympia Bar saw yet another meeting of the Torrevieja Writers´Circle. This time (29/4) saw 20 members raring to go. Sadly some will be leaving for the UK until the autumn but there are enough left in Spain to make life interesting every Wednesday.
We kicked off with a discussion about the proposed workshop and in short order, after checking first with the Olympia´s staff, it was decided that it would be held on Wednesday 24 June from 10 am till 5 pm. Nik will be leading it and Jen is sewing a pair of leather jackboots for him so that we will be kept in order. We have yet to decide exactly what form the day will take but we can be assured that it will NOT involve lounging around the pool and drinking Sangria.
( Do I hear cries of Boo! Shame! ?)
Today´s meeting was relaxed and pleasant, as usual. Glyn suggested a possible summer outing to watch eagles over Crevillente way and then to have a meal and visit a Moroccan Tea Tent (!) The suggestion was well received and details will follow later.
Today´s topic was Artistic or Literary License.
Brian wrote a thought- provoking piece on this.
Does Artistic License lead to Mendacity? Do writers lead their readers to Self Delusion by creating a world which is unreal and expectations which are unattainable for them?
Ibsen spoke of creating Castles in the Air - is that what a writer is doing and is it right or wrong?
Chris wrote on the same subject but hers was about a post-Credit Crunch world where licenses have to be obtained for those wishing to pursue careers which are not directly useful and productive. Shades of Big Brother!
The rest of the group produced a range of pieces not on the day´s topic.
Christina´s was a tweaked piece about a girl in an isolation room. Most assumed it was some kind of war or torture situation but it turned out to be a test in a TV Reality show! Gripping!
Douglas´s piece was not about a paid killer, as we thought, but about a male stripper! Cheeky!
TJ laid into us with 3 poems of ever-increasing depression. Then he went and left at half-time!
The first one, The Kitchen Blues, was the most easily accessible, about a lady whose family had grown up and left home and she now cooked to compensate for her loneliness.
The other two, Equilibrium Interrupted and Plaster Cast Profanities, were difficult to get a grip on and would require careful reading to begin to understand and appreciate them. However, there were some wonderful lines in them. Reality is boxed and put away was one I loved. Another was Contrition brings its own reward. Brian suggested that since TJ is an artist, perhaps his poems need to be seen and read, not listened to. Could be.
Glyn gave us a further chapter in his Army tale.He warned the faint-hearted that ripe language was imminent. We were not disappointed! Another very funny rendering and the blokes who´d been in the services attested to how true-to-life it was.
Ian gave us an interesting account of how he began to write. He´s only been going since coming to Spain 3 years ago! Incredible!
Maureen read her piece from last week about a trip to Brazil. She´d taken aboard advice offerred on how to make it more personal and less like a travel piece. There are still a few bits she wants to work on so will come back with it again.
Jane read a highly charged critical poem about travelling on Ryanair. Very funny and painfully true.
At this point, Nik declared time was up and another pleasant Wednesday morning had come to a close.
If Ann Flynn reads this, we all wish you well in your quest to become bionic woman. Hope the hip op ( or should it be Hip Hop?) is successful and relatively painless!
See you all next week
I hope it motivates you!
Debut Authors Longlisted For £10,000 Prize
So come on you aspiring authors - persist!
Not just for the professionals, this is one of the most prestigious competitions around and the largest award for a single short story in the world.
£15,000 for the winning story
£3,000 for the runner-up
£500 for the three other shortlisted stories.
Free to enter
Maximum length of 8000 words
8 copies of the story must be submitted
Go to: http://www.theshortstory.org.uk/nssp/2009.php4
How to enter:
Download the entry form from the above website;
Complete the entry form and submit it with:
Eight copies of one short story (maximum length 8,000 words);
A list of the author’s most recently published work including the publisher, date of publication and ISBN or ISSN;
Please note that incomplete entry forms will not be eligible for consideration.
Send your entry to:
BBC National Short Story Award 2009
45 East Hill
Some of the rules – check the website for all of the rules:
The Award is open to British nationals and UK residents, aged 18 years or over only. Proof of nationality and/or residency may be requested.
The story must not contain more than eight thousand words.
No more than one story per author may be submitted. It is the responsibility of the author to make sure that that there is not more than one of his/her stories submitted in total.
The story entered must either; a) be unpublished; or b) be first published or scheduled for publication after 1 January 2008.
The author must have a prior record of publication in creative writing. This means the author must previously have had works of prose fiction, drama or poetry published by a UK publisher (excluding self-publishing) or established printed magazine in the UK or broadcast by a UK national radio station. “Established” here means a periodical that is published regularly (monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly), that has been in circulation for at least the past 12 months, has an ISBN or ISSN number and is not self published. For avoidance of doubt online publishing is also excluded.
Friday, 24 April 2009
Back in early February I invited Penny Legg, Editor of The Woman Writer published by the Society of Women Writers & Journalists, to attend a TWC meeting and share her writing and other related experiences with us.
It was a glorious sunny day with a Spanish bright blue sky so we were able to take some good group photos in the garden of our regular meeting venue. These have very nicely illustrated a review of Penny's attendance written by another published author - Freda Lightfoot, a member of the SWWJ, who made the trip from Almeria to meet Penny and be at our meeting.
I will bring the magazine containing the review, which calls us 'a delightful bunch' (how true!) to the next TWC meeting - our fame is spreading! Thanks Penny and Freda.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
This lady has obviously come to terms with the dismal train services in some parts of the UK and has decided to chill out and wait in a civilised and relaxed manner for her connection.
This is not always the case with some passengers and this week´s topic Last Train encouraged the telling of some salutary tales on rail travel.
Encouraged by the promise of cake to celebrate Jane´s birthday, there was a good turn-out and a majority of members chose the topic as the subject of their piece.
Mary M told the true story of her honeymoon journey to the West Country which nearly led to disaster when the groom was left behind on the platform. She called it The Omen Train and said it was a chilling indication of how the marriage was to progress!
Mary K´s poem told of a broken romance and the dilemma of the girl who was contemplating throwing herself in the path of a train.
Ian´s prose piece told of a father and son in Scotland travelling to visit a relative. It was set in the 19th century and was about the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879. During a terrible storm, the bridge collapsed and a train on it at the time plunged into the river, leaving no survivors. The story was well-written, making you feel the horror of the impending accident as you listen to the coversation between father and son.
Alan´s piece was much lighter. He told the true story of an incident on a platform somewhere near Reading (?), when a young couple decided to document their feelings for each other by retiring to the photo booth and making love. It led to a Magistrate´s court. As Alan remarked, it was a bit different from the old classic film Brief Encounter!
Christina´s poem took in song titles about trains and journeys by trains - very clever!
The remaining items were not on the topic.
Brian´s was an ingenious piece, full of anachronisms, about Camelot. There was a long conversation between Sir Rutalot and Sir Notalot about King Arthur´s predilection for the Lady of Shalott. Brian felt he could improve the piece given time. It certainly has promise.
Chris, in Limerick mode, wrote a few more for Jane on her Birthday.
Brenda´s was a story she had read earlier and reworked, about a lady who wants to publish her work so badly she considers doing a pact with the Devil.
( I think most of us felt it was rather too close to the truth for comfort!!)
Maureen , too, read a re-worked piece which she felt dissatisfied with. We all felt it was too short and ended rather abruptly, which was exactly what she had thought, too.
Back to the drawing board!
There was a break during which Jane was presented with a lovely bracelet, a card and a plant and the members wished her a Happy Birthday in the time-honoured way with the traditional song. There followed cake.
At some point in the second half, from a suggestion by Maureen, a discussion took place on doing a workshop, led by Nik, perhaps instead of a Hot Pen one week. ( Honestly, the lenghths people will go to, to avoid a Hot Pen!!) Further discussions next week.
As time was up, Glyn, and Douglas didn´t read their work so will begin next week´s session.
Another good week, folks!
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
The main thing is to write something to be read out so that you can gain insights on your written work from the group's comments.
The more you write, the better you become at writing. We shall read around the table in sequence, irrespective of the written topic.
Remember that the best writing is re-writing.
Allow time to polish your written work before presenting it to the Circle.
Maximum word-count 1,200 or 40 lines for a poem.
Thanks to all those who suggested themes.
For those who don't know, a Hot Pen is a session where all attendees are given a word chosen at random from a book and asked to write a poem, story or article inspired by that word. The time limit for writing is 10 minutes, afterwhich all are read out, whether finished or not. It's surprising how many hot pen efforts have gone on to become stories and articles and even been sold!
Writing Magazine April competition - ‘Growing old gracefully -750 words’
6 The secret or The tower
13 Less said the better or Changes
20 Hot Pen
27 The reward or Rejection
Writing Magazine May competition - ‘Adult fairy story’
3 The meeting place or The invitation
10 First sentence: ‘I opened the door to find...’
17 Panic stations or The longest day
24 Hot Pen
Writing Magazine June competition - ‘... He wasn’t best pleased, having to stump up 500 quid’
1 To die for or The free gift
8 ‘I never said anything of the sort...’ Or A blog/blogger
15 Include the words aloof, astrology, honey, cockroach
22 Team spirit or Deep river or Hope springs
29 Hot Pen
Writing Magazine July competition - ‘Crime story’
5 East and West or A religious festival
12 Ten minute radio play for 2 or 3 voices or Good housekeeping
19 A political scandal or By popular request
26 Hot Pen
Writing Magazine August competition - ‘Love story’
2 First sentence: As I sat waiting for a return phone call, I reflected on...’
9 Book review (250 words) or The library book
16 Driving lessons or The coach trip or In the fast lane
23 Life would never be the same again or The allotments
30 WLTM or Must Love Dogs
Writing Magazine September competition - First line: ‘To be honest, I am not very fond of my own company.’’
7 First sentence: ‘She burst into tears at the news...’
14 Suddenly all the lights went out... Or Chance encounter
21 Dear John or The postman
28 Hot Pen
Writing Magazine October competition - ‘Long time no see - meets relative after 25 years’
4 The last hidden beauty of the world or Soft option
11 If only I hadn’t drunk so much... Or The crisis
18 ‘I know he was only a dog, but...’ Or Doom and gloom
25 Hot Pen
Best of luck, Nik
Monday, 20 April 2009
Today a small (5) but select group of TWCers accompanied by 2 guests and Heinke's Mut (Misty Blue) took a well earned break from their hectic writing schedules to go SAS mode and climb the Cruz de Muela Orihuela.
In anyone's book a very good 12 kms and 600 mts ascent. The day was slightly marred by the intervention of the Guardia Civil who managed to justify multas for 2 persons anxious not to be late for the rendezvous.
Be warned the CV95 San Miguel - Orihuela road is down to 60 kms max!!!
Thanks to some friendly locals for doing the on location shoot, which we hope to sell to Hola to cover the multas, and to God (a big reader of blogs) for leaving the storm and tempest until we had safely and dryly returned home..
Sunday, 19 April 2009
At the next meeting, as well as the usual cerebral delights,we will be having a small celebration for Jane´s birthday.
There will be cake.
( Don´t expect too much - it´s me in charge of that so it´ll be Mercadona, not home made.)
To celebrate the event, a gift will be given with a card, which most people have signed - if you haven´t done so,discreetly sneak off into a corner with Anne B.(Down, Glyn!!)
I have knocked out a verse or two for the card and have done this extra one as a taster.
Jane seems prim but really she´s cheeky,
Though this winter she´s been a bit peaky.
But now spring is here
She´s well into gear
And her energy levels are freaky.
On behalf of us all,Happy Birthday, Jane!
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Free to enter competitions - and on subjects that I know many TWCers can write on....
Forward Press Animal Antics Competition. This is for poems of up to 30 lines about your pet. In addition to the poem, you are expected to send a photo (of the animal, not you, you vain fool).
Entry Fee: None.
Comp Page: Click Here.
BBC Wildlife - Nature Writer of the Year 2009. This is for factual essays of up to 800 words about something from the natural world. ‘See it, feel it, write it,’ they say. One of the judges is Kate Humble. There are three others, but you’ve probably never heard of them.
Prize: Publication of your story in BBC Wildlife magazine, and a place on one of three Earthwatch expeditions, going to Greece, Mexico or Kenya (flights included) to carry out conservation work.
Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
Comp Page: Click Here.
Independent on Sunday/ Bradt Travel writing Competition. Travel articles of up to 800 words will be considered for this one. The theme is Destination Unknown (sounds like rogue sat-nav again). There are two categories: Published Writer and Unpublished Writer.
Prizes : Overall winner - A holiday for two in Colombia. The Independent on Sunday will publish the winning entry and offer a commission for an 800-word article based on the winner’s prize holiday. There will be a winner in each category. The Unpublished category prize is a place on a travel-writing course in Spain. However, if an unpublished writer is chosen as the overall winner, he or she will get the Colombia holiday, and another unpublished writer will be awarded the travel-writing prize. Now, I know what you’re wondering: what prize, in this latter case, will be awarded in the Published Writer category, bearing in mind that both categories are supposed to have a winner? Sorry, can’t help you there. They don’t say.
Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
Comp Page: Click Here.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Could it have anything to do with those who didn´t come? Are they really that noisy?
Perhaps it´s wisest not to say who sent their apologies... Anyway, due to being in the foothills of Alzheimer´s Light, I can´t remember in detail who said what about not being there. Just as well, really.
Although we were 15 present, it must have been a hard week since only 8 members had written anything. The threat of a Hot Pen loomed large, which may explain why Alan threw a question about poetry into the ring. Is a poem really a poem if you can´t put it to music, he asked. This caused a certain amount of animation in the group and the discussion was stretched as far as it would go without somebody actually breaking into song. Nik asserted himself once more and got us back on track. I think he had judged the discussion not to be going anywhere especially fruitful and decided that although Alan´s question was a perfectly valid one, maybe it was being dragged out to avoid the dreaded HP?
The topics for today were Shyness or Big Brother/Sister.
Three people chose these.
Chris J tried her hand at Limericks on the subject of Shyness, which went down quite well and which she enjoyed having a go at.
Brian wrote a piece inspired by Stanley Holloway´s Albert and the Lion, which linked to the subject by Albert´s parents declaring him a shy boy.
Delivered in what he claimed to be a Lancashire accent, he was challenged by Glyn, who was sure it was Yorkshire! Whichever it was, it was very funny. Ever the diplomat, Nik moved us on before the Wars of the Roses could break out again.
Anne B wrote a sinister poem, called Big Brother, about CCTVs and other features of modern life.
The other offerings were a mixed bag of different subjects.
Alan continued his story about Max in Hong Kong visiting Felix´s former mistress, Rachel. There was some discussion as to the age of the characters and in which period the story was set. It was felt this needed to be clarified.
Mary K wrote a poem about her wish to take up an exciting hobby, her rejection of surfing, except on the Web and finally her choice of Creative Writing. Thank goodness you chose that, Mary - we all appreciate your literary offerings every week!
Glyn continued his army tale, which never fails to cause hilarity, either a good old giggle or a sly snigger ( The latter mostly, I have to say, from the blokes, many of whom have done a stint in the armed forces).
Cynthia´s piece on the death of her lodger was good - the lodger turned out to be a mouse. It was the concensus that with a bit of tweaking to make it less obvious that an animal was involved, the resulting story would be excellent.
Joy recently become a granny, described the change in the roles of her son and herself, he now a parent, while she takes a step back from parent to grandparent. Very interesting perspective.
It was decided that since Jane has had her birthday in the UK while she´s been away (oops! now I´ve revealed who one of the noisy ones is!!), we should do something to mark the occasion. There´s a lovely pool outside. Would she object to being thrown in, one wonders?
Watch this space to find out.
Saturday, 11 April 2009
I recently contacted her as she is a colleague of my former Writers bureau tutor Simon Whalley - I received this email from Lorraine:
Simon did say you’d be getting in touch. Anything I can do to help you, just drop me a line.
I’m pleased to hear you enjoy my column. Can you ask your writing group if there is anything they would like me to cover that I haven’t yet touched on? Or can you ask if there is something that they would like me to deal with in greater detail?
Have a great Easter,
The Greatest Moving Abroad Tips in the World
by Lorraine Mace
The ABC Checklist for New Writers
by Lorraine Mace and Maureen Vincent-Northam
Friday, 10 April 2009
The books are in a series called The Millenium Trilogy and have as central characters the rather weird computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and the journalist Mikael Blomkvist.
The book I´ve just finished is called "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". It began a bit slowly then wham! Things really started happening.
It was published in 2005, followed in 2006 by The Girl Who Played With Fire and finally, in 2007, came The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets´Nest.
The first two are out in English and I´ve seen them on sale at Bookman. I´m not sure if the English translation for the last one is out yet.
The Swedes have already made the first book into a film, which has just come out in Scandinavia.
I really recommend this a a thwokking good read!!
Thursday, 9 April 2009
During our pre-meeting coffee session Pat, one of the TWCers, appeared waving a copy of Intouch (the Aviva/Norwich Union magazine for retired staff) under my nose.
"Hey Rob, did you know you are in here? What a surprise to see you on Page 13"
(my lucky number)
Well yes I had seen the article regarding Horace Greasley, who has had his book published at 90 years of age - perhaps the World's Oldest author? in my copy of the magazine which I received Monday.
But I didn't expect anyone from TWC to have seen it!
It really is a small world - any other Intouch readers out there??
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
I forgot to make a note of how many we were but there was a fair number. Apologies from Ann Flynn, who will be away for a while becoming Bionic Woman ( Hip replacement). She would appreciate people keeping in touch.
Today´s subject was either a poem - Ghost, or The Waiting Room, which I suppose could be poem or prose. There weren´t so many contributors but it gave a bit more time for discussion, which was great.
We had three poems:
Mary K´s gave some keen observations of people in a doctor´s waiting room. One man constantly going to the toilet, another with a sore toe and wearing odd shoes and a woman
"Far too overweight
Headed for the Pearly Gate."
She´d tried out a new form of eight 4-line verses and four couplets to see how it would work. Very well, was the consensus. It was an amusing poem and raised chuckles round the table.
Ian´s poem was about Life´s waiting room, where all were anxious to hear whether their lot was "Heaven or the Pearly Gate". A good poem but rather more gloomy than Mary´s.
Chris combined the topics of Ghost and Waiting Room to describe an unsuspecting traveller who, having missed her train, was rounded up by Death to go on her final journey. This was really
The prose pieces were as follows:
Jane´s was in her usual inimitable style.
She described how she and her sister, as young children, entertained her doctor stepmother´s patients while they were sitting in the waiting room. It was really funny when she came to the bit about extracting a penny per patient for her and her sister´s spending money, until caught red-handed by a furious Doctor Mary. Jenny suggested it could do very well in a competition advertised about what you were doing fifty years ago.
Brenda´s turn came and I think those of us who knew she´d been on a trip to Norway to stay in the Ice Hotel and see the Northern Lights, expected a Scandinavian eulogy.
What a surprise we got! Just before leaving on her holiday, Brenda´s house was broken into for the third time in short order! Not surprisingly, hers was an angry, bitter rail against the burglar and also the police, who showed no interest in investigating the crime. The piece was well-expressed and really conveyed the helpless rage of those whose privacy has been invaded time and again. We all felt for her and her partner and we really hope that writing about the experience has helped towards getting over it.
Glyn continued reading his novel about life in the army.
This week´s extract was a description of a football match between two rival platoons. Ned won the day by dropping his shorts and taking advantage of the stunned reaction his physical endowments caused to score a goal when his team was losing. Very funny and well-written.
Heinke´s piece was based on an experience she had had some years ago when accompanying someone to a Masterclass in how to cope with HIV. It was very interesting, at times funny and certainly made you think. She´s considering entering it in a competition.
Alan was the last reader. He gave us another exerpt from his novel "The Inheritance". This week the setting was Hong Kong, where he has worked. It was very colourful and when he stopped there were disappointed cries for more.
All in all, a good meeting.
Saturday, 4 April 2009
A new look for Spring!
There is now also an option to 'monetise' our blog - perhaps we can discuss this at the next meeting?
Viewings: March 26th = 2384
April 4th = 2570 (+ 186!)
Thursday, 2 April 2009
The number of members attending was 20. There were apologies from TJ and Rob.
Prior to the members reading, Nik spoke of a request that had been received from Jane Cronin for a member(s) to write a radio soap based on life in Spain. Heinke's name was suggested and it was suggested that it may even be a collaborative effort. As the details were a bit sketchy Maureen undertook to get more inforation and report back.
Nik also reported that the "Levante Press" had ceased trading thus depriving the members of another outlet for their work.
Ian asked if anyone wanted to take over writing the blog as he had done it for the past month and others could take the opportunity to write it. There were no takers.
Mary K showed members a gift recently received which was a kit that people could use to commence writing a novel.
Maureen started off the readings with a updated piece fom her novel about travels with her family. This chapter dealt with an Indian train journey. It was very descriptive with good characterization of her Indian travelling companions. Suggestions were made to improve the atmosphere of the piece.
Nik was next with a tongue-in-cheek article on building in Spain and its effect on the world. Not only its economy but its physical attributes. Could this be termed as "The Balance of Payments?"
Jenny gave us "Codgerism" a poem about old age and its benefits.
Glyn's army story "marched" on, this time telling us of a football match. The "tactics ," "coaching skills?" and "rule-bending" provided a hilarious insight into the rivalry of the teams and their followers.
Phil gave us a poem on this week's topic and is part of a trilogy about life on trains. This was a highly descriptive piece about an early morning train journey and its travellers.
Pat read an extremely poignant poem about the human face of the army entitled "Back From Iraq" or "The Soldiers Return". Members found this very moving and Pat is to be congratulated for her composition. I will try to obtain a copy for inclusion on the blogsite.
Brian advised that he had been "nagged" by his driver into doing a piece on this week's suggested topic. This was a short story about WW1 and the poets Wilfred Owen and Seigfried Sassoon.
Ian stated that, having "nagged" Brian, he himself had not written on the topic but a short story entitled "The Parting" which dealt with a child and his mother coping with leaving each other as they were about to start their first day at school. One as a pupil, the other a teacher. Alternative endings were suggested to heighten the emotional aspect.
Chris also dealt with this week's subject in a poem which echoed the current financial situation and its instigators.
Joy's poem on "Poetic Justice" was just that! Questionning what is poetic justice and how it is acheived. It is good to see Joy like Pat beginning to write more and have faith in her writing.
Last but by no means least Alan told the tale of a young man whose ambition was to become a poet. The setting of the story was some time in the not too distant future and his application to obtain a licence to enable him to achieve his ambition. Alan explained that he had misread this weeks topic as "Poetic Licence" as opposed to "Poetic Justice".
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
By Nik Morton
They say every cloud has a silver lining and it seems that this is true even where the credit crunch is concerned. The Costas of Southern Spain are likely to benefit, at least, according to a scientific study published today.
Avril Loof, 37, of the Tectonic and Seismic Institute, Valencia, says that the recent collapse of several building consortiums in Spain means that her team’s calculations will have to be revised.
‘We first encountered the Tipping Point issue about five years ago. If the trend of building had continued at its 2003 pace, we predicted that the massive weight of concrete would have a catastrophic effect on coastal Southern Spain.’
The northern plates of the Iberian peninusla are pushing against the Pyrenees, raising the earth about 1mm every year. ‘But,’ says Loof, ‘in 2003 we noted that the rise was accelerating and measuring just over +2mm.’ None of their computer models could account for this phenomenon, as there was no increase in seismic activity. In fact, quite the reverse. The frequency and strength of the earth tremors in Spain and Portugal had lessened every year.
‘There was one inescapable conclusion,’ she says. ‘The massive weight of concrete being poured on the land along the coast was tipping the southern part of Spain into the Mediterranean. Our studies over five years had pointed to publishing a cautious alert this year, with particular emphasis on the La Manga area. However, in the last eight months, as building work has drastically reduced, we have recorded a settling for the first time.’
Apparently, settling is where the tectonic plate readjusts and stays more or less static. It remains to be seen whether the peninsula plate will seesaw again when the building industry recovers from the current financial difficulties.
‘In the meantime,’ Miss Loof says, ‘this hiatus offered by the settling has given us time to conduct further important tests. The problem has not gone away. Perhaps lighter concrete may be the answer.’