Showing posts with label events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label events. Show all posts

Saturday 31 August 2019

I've Survived August- Now for September...

It's the last day of the month and as of 4.30 am (BST) this morning, my submission to the RNA's New Writers' Scheme went in.

Now I just have to wait for the eventual email telling me the reader's report is ready. I don't know who the published writer reading it will be, nor whether they're male or female. But whoever gets to read it- thank you.

The part I hadn't expected was how much time checking through the manuscript takes.

When I start the next draft I will be tougher on myself. I know I can do it now, it's about me being better prepared and organised during those busy everyday life events. Even 300-500 words a time soon builds up. I know I still have a lot to work to do in the next draft...

This weekend I relax, catch-up with all those things I didn't have time for- Sanditon on catch-up is first on my list...

Next Saturday (7th September) I'll be attending a half day workshop (I've been involved in organising it) at Nottingham Writers' Club.

Our guest is friend and blogger Patsy Collins The Travelling Writer, with her Effective Characterisation and Dialogue workshop from 1-5 pm.

Patsy Collins is coming to
There are still places available, so if you, or anyone you know are within reach of Nottingham and would like to attend, do please pass on the link.

Nottingham's Tram network links the railway station to a nearby tram stop less than 5 minutes walk away from our venue; plus the Victoria bus station and bus routes into the city centre are 5-10 minutes walk...

Then on the 14th I'll be at my desk tuning in to #SelfPubCon2019 it's 24 sessions online over 24 hours. (I won't be sat at my desk for 24 hours though...)

You need to register via ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors) you'll find them on Facebook, Twitter and their website. The three-day pass is free- just register with name and email.

I've tuned in to the past two: spring this year and fall of 2018. Both times I've learnt something I could put into action...

Do you have any writing related plans for September?

Image provided by Patsy Collins.

Monday 16 April 2018

A Vintage Break...

That title sums up my weekend.

Sunday I attended Lou Lou's Vintage Fair held at the Albert Hall (no not that one in London);this one is in Nottingham City Centre next to the Playhouse (the smaller of the two theatres in the city).

Going Vintage...
I was looking for a few 1920's pieces for inspiration  on one of my future projects.

Now I love brooches. I have a few inexpensive costume jewellery brooches that my mum wore on her dresses or coat when I was a child, but rarely wear myself.

Possibly that's why I started a board on Pinterest just for Brooches - old and new,

I took it as a good sign for the story, that in my first ten minutes at the fair I got a lovely Art Deco brooch and a postcard of the poster for the New Pullman Express, The Southern Belle, which travelled from London to Brighton in the early 20th Century- this was one of my initial research areas for the idea.

It's unsettling to see clothes and household items that were so familiar when I was growing up, but equally disturbing when the clothes from the 1970's were now considered vintage- though perhaps it's not so bad if you call them retro instead!

There was a wonderful selection of cakes on sale to go with tea in proper cups- no plastic there...

I found a few items of 1920's clothes on one of the rails, a black coat with a high velvet collar, and a couple of dressing gowns with beautiful red/plum silk linings. Even though they were aged (and on a coat hanger) they still exuded that suggestion of elegance. Sadly they had to stay on the rail...

It was a fun and relaxing few hours and has certainly reignited my interest in collecting brooches.

From a research point of view vintage fairs are especially useful for 1930's-1950's household items, clothing and jewellery.

(Etsy seems to be another useful place to look.)

Also there will be true aficionados attending; they dress up with the clothing, hairstyles and jewellery of their chosen decade.

When I stopped for coffee and cake I shared a table with two ladies, one dressed 1940's and the other 1950's. I felt quite overdressed in jeans and a jacket!

Have you been to a vintage fair or similar event and did you enjoy it?

image from Pixabay

Sunday 23 July 2017

A Graduation Day...

A few days after my workshop debut I was over in Staffordshire at Trentham Garden for the graduation ceremony of one of my triplets- I've been forbidden to show anyone a picture of them in their gown and cap, so I've had to do some creative cropping of the photos my husband took on the day...

You can see more of the gardens on the website here. The estate is 725 acres...

Perseus and
Medusa Head...
(Outside of the Gardens there's lots of car parking spaces as there's a shopping village too.)

We had the graduation entrance tickets so we didn't have to pay the usual Garden entrance fee. But for what there was the entry fee seemed reasonable.

There's a lake and a statue of Perseus and Medusa that makes you feel very small when you stand beside it!

A bit of
Trentham Lake...

The statue is a 19th century copy in Bronze that was commissioned by the 2nd Duke of Sutherland. The 1550's original by Benvenuto Cellini is in the open-air Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence...

I did regret not taking my camera with me as there were so many things I would have taken pictures of. But hopefully I will get to visit again...

I loved the Italian Garden and although it's not totally 19th century with the planting, it has used the 'historic framework', so you do get the impression of how it looked originally.

There was more water too, with fountains regularly spaced.

Fountain in the raised
garden area...
Then it was time for the graduation ceremony.

Monday and Tuesday there was one ceremony per day, but Wednesday to Friday there were two each day, and we were attending the final ceremony on the Friday afternoon.

The honorary Doctor of Arts was being awarded to author and adventurer (among many roles) Major Levison Wood, in recognition of his work as an explorer, writer and photographer. He was born in Staffordshire but did his degree in Nottingham.

(How appropriate was that!?)

It was a long two hours watching all the students, but eventually it was over and the traditional throwing the caps into the air signified the end.

They've graduated...

It was a wonderful but tiring afternoon for all of us...

Sunday 7 May 2017

Celebrating 90 Years...

No, I'm not 90 years old, but Nottingham Writers' Club is this year. Which is why I was out celebrating on the 4th May.

We attended a reception at the Nottingham Council House in the Market Square, with club members and their guests, plus a few members of the City of Literature board.

There was a short speech by the Lord Mayor (who was previously the Sheriff of Nottingham), and then by our President of 10 years, Roy Bainton.

The Lord Mayor and NWC President
Roy Bainton cutting the cake
One of our Vice Presidents, Pat, arranged and paid for the cake- it was an open book shaped sponge with jam filling and iced - it was delicious.

The club committee provided the wine and non-alcoholic drinks.

Tea and coffee courtesy of the Council.

There were about 35 - 40 people at the reception, but not everyone was going on to the nearby restaurant, George's, for dinner.

We had part of the cake at the reception, and rather than ordering any puddings after our dinner (don't think any of us had room for pudding anyway) we had another slice of cake to finish...

It was a wonderful evening all round, with lots of talking, as well as the eating and drinking.

Me and my own personal hero...
Just as 10 years ago at the 80th anniversary celebrations, I got a picture taken of me with my own personal hero- my husband - who much prefers to be behind the camera than in front of it.

It may look like we're doing head contortions and looking in the wrong place, but the room lights were reflecting off the lenses of our glasses, so we had to keep making adjustments until we eradicated the light problem.

The club's celebrations continue for the rest of the year, but they'll be low-key...

Only 10 more years until the 100th anniversary...

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Fun and Research in York...

Finally I've had the time to fully gather my thoughts on York, as well as sorting my photos (there wasn't 600, I misread the totals on the screen- that was how many I could have taken with the memory card. I ended up with 131 images and I'm still naming and tagging them).

Plus my husband took a few for me on his smaller digital camera, which I still need to get from him.

Even on a short break there's time for research and inspiration.

I also did a lot of walking, lots and lots of walking...

We stayed at a hotel with the enclosed car park at the rear- our room overlooked it. It was only five minutes walk to Bootham Bar, which has been the entryway into York for centuries, so we were at The Minster within ten minutes, and from there a variety of attractions, shops, and eating places were within easy reach.

Bootham Bar
(The picture on the right, there's a car in the distance with headlights on; our hotel was about that far away.)

Unfortunately we didn't sleep well the first night as a car alarm, on one of the vehicles in the hotel car park, kept going off every hour- it finally stopped after 3 am. :(

As I'd arranged to meet up with writer friend Maggie Cobbett at Bennett's, by The Minster on the Saturday morning before my first museum visit, there was no time for a lie-in.

Carol and Maggie met for coffee

It was a Facebook post by Maggie, recommending the Shaping the Body exhibition at the Castle Museum, that led me to book the weekend in York.

(As I've got quite a few photos on particular topics, I'll be using some of the photos I took in future blog posts here, and on my Serena Lake site.)

Friends already know that if there's an opportunity to try out historical dress, I will be the first in the queue. Sadly this time there wasn't a large size available, so I went for the underpinnings- panniers.

Panniers tied at the waist

Now I have to admit these were comfortable, but the real things probably wouldn't be, nor as compact as these. Though they do give you an idea of proportions, and how they would give shape to the dresses of the time.

Like later cages, they do change how you move.

By the time we'd finished going through the museum I was hungry and tired, so I decided to visit the shoe exhibition at Fairfax House on the Sunday, rather than rush through it.

If I hadn't been going to Fairfax House we probably would have followed the riverside pathway for a while. There was a rowing competition running between various universities taking place on the Sunday morning...

Riverside path...

Monday morning soon arrived, as did the rain, and time to pack up the car and return to the regular daily routine.

It's been a busy first half of the year, so the trip to York was just what I needed...

Sunday 8 November 2015

A Little Help from Your Friends...

The great thing about writers is that they are not only fun friends to have, but they are willing to share their knowledge to new and developing writers.

I know I wouldn't have improved without the generosity of experience of many current writers, and those who are no longer with us.

One of my roles at the writers' club is Prose Secretary; I find judges for our assorted competitions held throughout the year. The valuable comments each entry receives back helps the writers continue to develop their skills, and highlight where they may be going wrong- as well as what they are doing right.

So when I was tasked with finding a judge for the 2016 Nottingham Writers' Club, National Short Story Competition, I had a few potential people in mind.

I'm very glad to say that my first choice, a successful short story writer and novelist agreed to the job.

Admittedly, Patsy Collins sprung to mind due to her short story pedigree, plus the 2016 theme which is 'Fire'. Patsy just so happens to have released a new book- a few days ago- called 'Firestarter'. I have it ready to read on my Kindle.

I'm assured there's a hunky fireman involved... :D

You can find out more about Patsy's latest novel over on her blog Words about writing...

The club's national competition usually opens on the first day of the New Year, but for 2016 we're holding the submission period during February. And as next year is a leap year, there will be 29 days to submit entries, either online or by post.

PLEASE NOTE that only entries from writers residing in the UK can be accepted.

There are a few rules of course, so do read and follow them. Often newer and less experienced writers are put off entering competitions by the thought of competing against 'professionals'.

So the main criteria for anyone considering entry: if you've earned £300 or more from short story writing during 2015 please don't enter.

For more details about the 2016 competition, pop along to the page on the Nottingham Writers' Club website.

Firestarter- the new novel
from Patsy Collins

Sunday 11 October 2015

Discovering Sci-fi in Nottingham this October...

Now I have to admit that the nearest I've ever gotten to sci-fi is watching Star Trek and it's many incarnations, Stargate - and versions of, plus Farscape and the occasional film.

Well I'm fairly sure I'm going to be learning a lot, later this month, as the writers club I attend (Nottingham Writers' Club) are holding a Sci-fi Night on the 21st October, 6-9.30 pm.

If you're in the UK you might be familiar with the annual Edge-Lit event held in Derby each year, and Alex Davis who is the mastermind behind it.

Alex is involved in the sci-fi night in Nottingham too, as both publisher- of Boo Books- and a master of ceremonies during the evening.

There will be discussions with authors, a Q&A, readings, time to meet the authors, buy books- and get them signed. There's a bar at the venue, so even if alcohol isn't your tipple, you can get tea or coffee, as well as soft drinks.

So far the authors appearing and taking part are:

Ian Douglas - website.

Sophie Sparham - website.

Gav Thorpe - website.

Roy Bainton - Amazon.

Stephen Palmer - website.

Alex Davis - blog.

If you know anyone who is into sci-fi, do mention this event to them.

The venue (The Nottingham Mechanics) is close to public transport links, and the nearest tram stop is a few minutes walk away, so there's quick and easy access straight to Nottingham Railway Station.

Tickets are available in advance via Eventbrite: here. £5 in advance, or £7 on the night. But whichever option is chosen, all ticket holders will be receiving a goodie bag at the event...

This is a one-off event, so don't miss it...

Thursday 17 September 2015

The Snakes & Ladders of Writing...

I realised today that writing can be a bit like snakes and ladders. You work your way along the board and sometimes everything goes well, or you get a good moment so up the ladder you go.

Then the bad spells are the snakes. You hit them and end up at the bottom of the snake; sometimes the slide back is short, other times it can be a long way down.

When you finally get to the end- whether you win or not- you can walk away, but the next time you want to play, you have to start all again.

That's what writing a novel of any length feels like to me, snakes and ladders.

I'd decided earlier in the year that if the opportunity came along to enter a romance new talent competition, I should go for it. I've learnt so much the past two years, and finally felt I was ready to try.

Although the Harlequin competition So You Think You Can Write was interesting, I didn't have anything fully complete, and I'm a slow typer...

The next opportunity was The Festival of Romance, New Talent Award. This required a first chapter, maximum 2,500 words. Then when the festival weekend was cancelled I did wonder whether the competition would run. Well it is, but as part of the Love Stories Awards instead,

The New Talent Award "is intended to shine a spotlight on the authors of tomorrow."

Now I have had a week of snakes and ladders as a result...

I have three different projects, so three first chapters all in different stages. The Dorset one needs too much work, as much as I love my current work in progress, it isn't what I want to concentrate on- though I have the last two chapters of draft one still to finish, rumbling around in my mind.

So the 1802 based story it is. I already had some revision notes made, but where to start?

After a number of snake moments from which I picked myself up, I got into a method that seemed to work for me.

The deadline for submitting by email is midnight BST 1st October. There's a £3.50 entry fee (to fund a trophy and presentation to the winner and shortlisted writers).

If I don't feel the chapter is good enough, then I won't enter it- and my contemporary romance first chapter may get an unexpected outing (the first three chapters had a lot of work done to get them ready for last year's romance trophy competition at the writers' club).

The aspect that hit me hard today was starting again.

I'd completed the historical first draft a year ago. I'd taken my characters through meeting again, the difficulties, falling in love and eventually gaining their happy ever after (HEA). Now I had to go back to the start of the relationship and put aside all those moments and revelations I'd written about, and get my mindset back to that initial meeting.

It was slow progress, but then everything clicked into place. I've climbed a short ladder today. I just need to keep climbing...

Making progress...

Image courtesy of ddpavumba &

Friday 11 September 2015

Heritage Open Days- This Weekend...

A quick post about a nationwide visiting opportunity this weekend, Heritage Open Days- UK.

I mentioned this to a few writer friends and it was a 50/50 split between those who knew about it and visited place, and those who had not heard about it, so I thought I'd mention it.

In September each year, various museums, private homes and other buildings open their doors to allow the public to visit heritage gems that are not always available to be accessed and seen. Find out how it's brought about.

If you pop along to the website you can search for all the FREE events either by region, county, town or local council, and then print out the details.

Personally I'm hoping to get to see Bromley House Library in Nottingham. It's actually a few doors away from the modern Central Library in the city.

Hopefully I can then get to the places I'd intended to go to last weekend before my plans changed...

I hope to be able to take a few photos for mine and Serena's blog, though they will be different places of course.

So if you get to events near you, have fun...

Monday 7 September 2015

Changes to Plans...

Lots of berries on the Hawthorn...
The past week has seen a lot of plans for the last quarter of the year change - but as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.

I'd planned to go and take some photos in Nottingham to go with a blog post on my website on Saturday.

Just as I was getting ready to go out the door, the Saturday post arrived with an important letter I'd been waiting for, and I needed to get it sent on asap.

So by the time I'd got all that sorted and ready for the post office- then to get it recorded delivery, I didn't have time for taking the pictures I needed :( so that's on my list of things to do soon.

Sadly, the Festival of Romance weekend in November, over at Stratford-Upon-Avon, has been cancelled. Though the New Talent Competition is apparently going ahead, and the book Awards section that would have taken place at the Saturday night dinner event will be held later in November- as far as the most recent message explained.

Hopefully 2016 will be another opportunity.

There's lots of preparations going on at the writers' club for October- we have a Sci-fi night with Alex Davis and a few authors who will be there to talk books and sign copies, among other things.

And I'm determined to put in as much time as I can to finish the last couple of chapters of the first draft of the contemporary romance. It's all sat in my head, waiting.

If the berries on the hawthorn are indicative of a bad winter as folklore suggests (my OH claims the bad winter is a result of the ideal weather earlier in the year, that gave fruit everything is needed to prosper) I'll be spending a lot of time indoors tapping away at the keyboard.

I bought a delightful A4 lidded box in Paperchase, so everything I need for my Nottinghamshire historical romance can be kept together, ready for the first revision. I'm eager to get on with it...

Next weekend my son returns to University, so we'll be getting everything packed up this week. This time last year we were getting organised for his first move away from home, and now he's going back for year 2.

A new routine is about to be set-up too so I don't procrastinate, and endeavour to make the most of my free time, though some weeks will be better than others I'm sure...

Thursday 25 June 2015

It's Book Festival Time...

To be honest, any month of the year is book festival time!

As in previous years this Saturday I'll be setting up and spending time on the Nottingham Writers' Club stall, with assistance from a few of the members.

This year we're not selling any of our members books, just letting visitors to the last Saturday event, know that we're there and welcome new members- whether new, developing or established writers...

There is so much available online nowadays that joining a writers' group sometimes seems to be viewed as unnecessary, but there's nothing like a group of writers getting together and sharing knowledge, inspirations, writing and having fun.

(Only another writer understands about characters talking to you and doesn't think it's strange... :D)

It's also good to venture out into the world and attend a book festival to discover local writers- new and established; attend interesting talks on subjects that I'd never have thought about before- just because there is an author discussing the background and/or research for their latest book.

Finally, it's a good way to learn what works with an audience in a tent, or a hall- especially when the weather is hot or you're competing with heavy rain- trying to drown your voice out- as it smacks against the canvas...

I'm used to standing up in front of people at club meetings. I've read some of my work to a small public audience too (there's a few June/July blog posts from previous years if you're interested) so standing behind the club stall isn't too difficult, but I know not everyone finds it easy, or comfortable.

(Despite all that I'm sure I would be nervous if I was the author in one of the tents talking about the latest book. One day it may be me!)

 photo DSC01564-1.jpg
Book Festival time...
I'll be taking photos to record the day for the club magazine, so I'll share a few pictures in my next blog post on Sunday/Monday.

Do you attend your local book festival, or have you done an author talk at one? What's the best part for you?

(In the case of the Lowdham last Saturday, the second-hand book stalls are very popular, and I've found some interesting and useful research books there.)

Now keep your fingers crossed for lovely weather.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Lowdham- Photos and a Story...

Okay here's a few photos from Saturday at the Lowdham Book Festival- I've yet to master the finer arts of Photoshop Elements 9, so apologies for the light on my glasses.

In the Village Hall
The village hall is the central hub of the festival with a couple of other venues to host other talks, and marquees out on the grass behind the hall. There's always activities for children provided so no one misses out.

I would have liked to have gone to a few of the events in the afternoon, but there was a steady flow of people from 10.30 am onward, so I only left the club stall for the Fringe and a quick look at the second hand book stalls in the marquee.

(I was quite restrained; I only bought one second-hand book.)

Nor did I get to sample any of the cake on sale from the kitchen hatch- it's usually very yummy cake...

When I wasn't answering queries and promoting Nottingham Writers' Club, I was able to talk to my neighbours, Leicester Writers Club and a lady who was selling her fantastic photographs of wildlife and nature.

There were lots of writers with books to sell; including a couple of authors published by Pen & Sword books. Their wall posters stood out well, but of course the Duke of Wellington is very distinguished even in one dimension.

I bought a book (signed by the author) for my OH- who is wonderfully supportive on days like this, driving me to the village hall, keeping everything running at home, then returning to collect me at the end...

So to the performance... 
Talking to the audience while
posing for the photo

There wasn't as many people in the room as last year, but it was a sunny day this time.

In one bar there was music, and in the other the literature.

I was one of three NWC members performing.

Jennifer Appleyard began with the start of her novel, ' Touch the Earth' (Hayloft Publishing Ltd) and from there Viv Apple took over with a selection of her poetry to lighten the mood.

As we had time limitations I'd chosen short pieces. There was a 200 word story on illusion (see below) and the audience were surprised at the last line revelation as I'd hoped.

The 1400 word story that went next is currently being judged in a club competition, so I won't say anymore, but the audience liked it- hope the judge does too!

I finished off with a very short piece that I referred to as 'the underwear story' (for the benefit of any men in the audience who didn't know what shapewear is). It's actually a misadventure tale, but luckily the unfortunate woman survives the experience... :-)

So here is the first story I read. I hope you enjoy it...


Work beckoned.
    Rachel stepped out the shower, patted her skin with soft Egyptian cotton, then slathered herself in ‘Opium’; its fruity, spicy aroma began her transformation and she revelled in it.
    Slipping on the black lacy thong and matching suspender belt she began to slide the sheer black stockings up each leg in turn, and with a light-fingered fix, was done.
    Contact lenses in, she admired the view in her mirror and wished she could wake up one morning to find her pale blue eyes turned this olivaceous shade.
    With deft artistic strokes of brushes and sponges she changed face; a touch of colour to highlight the cheekbones she usually hid, and a black flick of gel liner to suggest the exotic.
    The Teal, Suzy Wong style dress with the seam slit to her right thigh displayed her stocking top and she gained extra height with gold strappy shoes via four inch heels.
    Then with a wielding of heated tongs to create a mass of curls, and a final spritz of hairspray, the illusion was complete.
    Rachel was gone; in her place stood Orchid, wild, alluring and luscious.
    Ready to ensnare the cheating husband she was employed to expose.

 © 2013 Carol Bevitt

 (Photos courtesy of Dennis Apple.)

Saturday 15 June 2013

A Busy Month Coming Up...

Variety for the weekend...

My short story entry to the Wells Literary Festival competition is now on its way. :-)

My story really didn't need too much extra work as it was very minor things; changing the placing of a short paragraph here, and on the first page where an issue nagged me, I just rewrote the same sentence in a slightly different way, and it was much better.

A year ago I didn't see those little improvements that could still be made, and perhaps they were the aspects that got the story rejected...

*   *   *

The other exciting news is that the One Word Anthology by the Talkback Writers (of which I'm one- well two, as my pseudonym Serena Lake has stories in there) is shortly coming out in paperback form.

The e-book is still available for 99p from Alfie Dog and other book buying outlets (though there may be slight price differences due to the way the book buying sites work).

The paperback will be £5.99, and 10% of the profit will go to the charity Medical Detection Dogs...

Out soon in paperback
(More news and about the book launch when I have a definite date.)

I better get on with sorting out my author page on Amazon...

It's two weeks to the final day of the Lowdham Book Festival ( 29th June) when Nottingham Writers' Club has a stall promoting the club and members work. So I'll be found on the stall for most of the day.

EXCEPT from just before midday when I and two other club members will be located across the road in The Ship pub to take part in the second Fringe event, reading a selection of our work for 40-45 minutes.

Various groups will be performing throughout the day and into the early evening, so if you're nearby, then do pop in, grab a drink and enjoy the events.

*   *   *

Then on the 3rd July, Nottingham Writers' Club has a ticket event. Novelist and Biographer Miranda Seymour will be discussing 'sleuthing and biography'; and will be talking about her forthcoming book, 'Noble Endeavours: Stories from England and Germany' due to be published in August.

Tickets will be £2.50 on the door to non-members; £1 for members. 
Miranda Seymour
Miranda Seymour

Starting 7pm, 3rd July 2013, at the Nottingham Mechanics, North Sherwood Street, in the city centre.

If you need any further info you can ask for details via the Nottingham Writers' Club contact form, here.

So I have a few busy weeks to come...

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Back To Writing...

It's always hard get back into routine after a break, and that certainly goes for writing too.

I was at a difficult point in my manuscript just before the Easter holidays and having had a break for a few weeks, I've had the necessary time to sort out what was bothering me- my heroine had been getting very introspective in the last chapter and I wasn't sure if I was letting her get away from the plot.

But with time away, I've realised I'm just at that point where she is changing from who she was at the start of the story, to whom she will become by the end.

And the next part of the story is going to be hard work as both my protagonists are in that changing process. Sarah is the one with the problems now, while Hugh's initial source of conflict has been resolved. But of course, he isn't go to have the rest of the story to relax in- he will still have issues to resolve... :-)

Now I'm feeling comfortable with my writing process, I'm going to try adding in some other writing.

Last year, I did say I was going to enter more of the competitions run by the writers' club I go to- and as Chairman, I really should be leading by example...

So, I have deadlines for handing entries in by the first few days of July- these are annual competitions.

One is a new non-fiction competition for members; we need to write a piece on what kind of future for the printed book- I already have a few ideas for that one.

I also want to try the story suitable for radio. There was a useful short column in Writing Magazine recently which will be very helpful. And I'll be checking out the BBC's Writers Room pages.

I do have a deadline for a short story competition in early June, so I better get my ideas jotted down...

And in a couple of months I'll be performing a piece of flash fiction (already written) at the second 'Fringe at The Ship' event, on the last Saturday of the Lowdham Book Festival. (The festival runs throughout June.)

So the next few months will be busy.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

The Queen in Nottingham...

Nottingham received a royal visit today (Wednesday). Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, travelled by car from Nottingham railway station to the Old Market Square to be greeted by thousands of cheering and flag waving people, of all ages.

Obviously there were a lot of roads closed and buses unable to stop at their regular locations, so the guests of honour could use the quick route and avoid the roadworks...

I'd arrived at 9.30 and the main part of the square was already filled- the front row had been there since about 6 o'clock.  So I found a spot at the rail behind the water feature (almost at the far end of the square) but I had a reasonable view of the balcony of the Council House- and my OH's camera with a reasonable zoom on it.

The tall buildings around the square had workers inside leaning out the windows, or on balconies. There were even a few who came out onto the flat roof of their building to look at the view...

It was quite fun watching the poor bloke on the roof getting the royal standard ready to raise- he took his jacket off before he started, so it must have been warmer up there than at ground level!

There was a band of musicians, but we couldn't really hear them at the back.

The big screen was great for everyone much further back because we could only glimpse the
tops of hats and the cars.

They did a brief walkabout saying hello to those at the front, and accepting lots of flowers.

The Queen was wearing a matching hat and coat, apparently it was green, but it looked more blue from a distance.

But amid the crowds and officials she certainly stood out.

There was a big cheer when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were seen.

Everytime they appeared on the screen one or other of the numerous people escorting them, unaware of the camera man, would get in the way, and you could only see the back of the Duke's head- he has a bald patch, or the Duchess's brown hair with the little blue hat perched atop her head.

Everything settled down when the royal guests went into the Council House, but everyone was waiting for the balcony appearance.

And when they stepped out there was a roar, cheering, waving of flags, and hand waving.

I know they couldn't see me, but I did wave at them. :-)

At the back we couldn't hear the music for the National Anthem, so we couldn't join in, but those at the front did.

The Queen smiled a lot, and after another wave they went back inside, into the Ballroom.

Some of the crowd left then, but the majority waited about another twenty minutes until they came out to get in the car to go to their next engagement in Basford.

Then the crowds casually dispersed in all directions, some to shop or go on to work, others to take their children back to school, or like me to go home.

Yes, it was a bit chilly standing around for a couple of hours, but it was worth every minute...

Monday 23 April 2012

Happy Monday-World Book Night, Shakespeare and St. George...

Phew! Today really is busy...

Happy St. George's Day to all those living in England.

Happy Birthday to the greatest and best known playwright in the world, William Shakespeare, who grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire.

I spent a lot of summer holiday's there in my early 20's, I would book theatre tickets for whichever productions were on at the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) during my chosen holiday week, find a nearby hotel or bed and breakfast and immerse myself in the town and Shakespeare's plays.

(It was quite normal to walk past well-known actors in the street, or to be standing in the same queue as them in a shop without anyone bothering them...)

When I wasn't at the theatre, I would stroll alongside the river, sit and read, or just enjoy the calmness away from the traffic and bustle. I even ventured onto the river in a small hired row boat- I did wonder if I would ever get back to land a few times, but I could certainly appreciate how tiring rowing a boat can be.

During the day I did the tourist trail- I've visited his birthplace a few times, and always found something new to learn. You can find out more here.

The other big event today is World Book Night.

You can get a brief overview of some of the events from this article.

But if you think the hoo-ha is too much then here's a few other ways to celebrate the giving of books.

Nicola Morgan is doing her Complementary World Book Night again this year-after getting a lot of tv and press coverage for her views in 2011. She'll be going to the book shop and buying books to give.
This way the bookshop gets sales (high street bookshops need people to go in and buy books from them, to keep running), the writer of the book earns royalties, and the publisher gets money too.

And if you'd like to support independent authors then do visit Authors Electric who are celebrating WBN by offering a selection of their e-books for free on the 23rd/24th April. A great opportunity to try out some new authors.

Well I'm off to do some writing before chores take over.

Happy World Book Night/Happy St.George's Day. :-)

Monday 9 April 2012

Historical Time Periods: Which Do You Prefer?

Over the years I've read novels that have ranged from Roman to Medieval, and on to Victorian times- I've enjoyed some more than others.

In college I studied Ancient History for O'level and when I moved on to A'level History I was starting in the 18thC, and I really couldn't get on with it.

I enjoyed the Victorian section of the course, with all the political change, but the 18thC was my downfall...

So perhaps it wasn't so surprising when my first novel was set in the early Victorian period when a lot of advancements began to take place- the continuing decline of the old horse-drawn coach services and the emergence of railways.

(No it didn't get finished, it only got to 40,000 words. Mainly because I realised there was a big chunk of story that had emerged during the writing, and it had completely changed emphasis- there was a romance developing against the story background which hadn't been intentional.

With that realisation there was the need to change the time period to fit the romance plot.
And I didn't have the knowledge and experience then to know I should just keep going and sort it out later...One day I might get back to sorting it out...)

I like reading novels set in the Regency, but I don't think I could write one. But if you want a source of information then Social Customs During the Regency on the blog for Jane Austen's World, has a lot of links under the numerous topics- too many to list here, and wide ranging.

It was actually my Dorset novel that started to get in the way of that first one, and it hastened the 'put it in a box and move on' moment.

Originally my Dorset novel was going to have a smuggling background, but again the facts and circumstances of the time period interfered- and for certain elements that I needed for my plot, a slightly earlier setting than I'd originally anticipated was essential.

It was during my research for that time span that I finally started to grasp the 18th C.
If I'd been able to approach the 18thC in this way back when I was doing my A'level, I might have got  the 1700's when I needed it...

Friday 26 August 2011

One Woman's Too Hunky Hero is Another's Delight...

Don't worry the sun hasn't gone to my head- well not too much...

If you have popped into Sue Moorcroft's blog in the last few days you will have seen her latest post 'Call To the Nation's Women: Help Us Find The Perfect Man!'

There you will find the results of The Festival of Romance's poll on romantic heroes- from asking 58 UK Romantic Novelists their opinion.
Can't say I'd entirely agree with every the items in each category: essential, desirable but not essential and not important.
I'd possibly move one or two around...

[The poll even made the Book Blogs slot in the online version of the Guardian. Do read the comments below Alison's Flood's piece, especially Sue's response to one of the commenters about hygiene...:-) ]

So if you want to give your personal view, follow the link to take the survey-further down the page on Sue's post.
The survey closes 19th September and the winning entry drawn (of those who include their name and e-mail address at the end of the survey) will win tickets to the Festival of Romance being held 21/22 October in Hunton Park, Near Watford. (You can still do the survey without leaving your details.)

While I certainly agree with the 'essential' list, I would add 'height' to it from the 'desirable but not essential' listing, but I could be biased as I'm married to a wonderful man who's
 6ft 2.

So what do you think of the author results?

Sunday 26 June 2011

At The Book Festival...

I'm now feeling human again after a good night's sleep so can recall the day...

book festival,white,banner,gate

The weather started out very overcast and from past experience at the festival Saturday knew that it would be quiet if the sun didn't shine.

There were the usual book stalls from assorted antique and collectible old books to new ones. I have to put imaginary handcuffs on myself when looking at the old books- but that's not strange in writers I'm sure...

I did find an Arthur Mee's The King's England series book for Nottinghamshire. My copy from 1949 was only £2.50, and there are lots of useful snippets in it.

There was a lovely little book on the meaning of flowers, the illustrations were by Kate Greenaway but at £15 it was too costly, though I considered the 1970's copy of the same book at £10, I still decided to pass.

That did generally seem to be happening. People were looking but buying less than in comfortable years, whether you were talking new or recycled.

Well we got the sunshine and the side of the marquee was opened up to improve airflow and space. But there were a few showers to deal with during the afternoon.

There were sudden gusts of wind as well, so leaflets on our stall went flying and on a few occasions I was seen to crawl about on the grass to reach under tables and chairs to retrieve them- and no there are no photos (I was in charge of the camera this year).

I never got to any of the talks, but as you can see from the photo they were well attended.

marquee,people,grass,white,book festival
Overspill at the talk

In fact many of them had a person holding up a sign behind their back at the marquee entrance saying sorry, they were full.

Members of the literary community supporting the Alan Sillitoe Statue Fund spent the day selling raffle tickets- there were a number of prizes that consisted of books and bottles of alcohol...

The winner(s) of the Alan Sillitoe Short Story Competition were also announced. The short list had been judged by writer Nicola Monaghan and David Sillitoe. As they couldn't choose between the top three stories the first prize was split between the three writers who received £60 each- one apparently donated their winnings to the statue fund.

I stopped to say hello to crime writer Stephen Booth during a gap in the book signings- he always supports the Lowdham Saturday in some form.

There were storytellers dressed as characters from Southwell Workhouse and they stayed in character even when walking around the festival- very impressive.

My NWC colleagues had (like me) spent time talking to people interested in writing and others interested in members books that were on sale.

By four pm I was getting tired and was glad to be finishing for the day.

So if there's a book festival near you, it's worth going along...

Thursday 23 June 2011

Lowdham Book Festival...14th June-14th July

This coming Saturday (25th) I'll be leaving my family at home to spend the day at the 12th Lowdham Book Festival, Nottinghamshire. It runs from 10am to 5pm.

The writers club has a stall and I'm usually one of the volunteers that man it. Club members are able to sell copies of their published books, or provide promotional material for their e-books. Then there's the advertising for the writers club itself.

It can be a long day and like any event you have to be there early to set up, so no lie-in for me this weekend.

The festival takes place at various locations around Lowdham, and on Saturday most of the activity is in the village hall and the marquees behind it, though a few other buildings along the main road are used too.

If it's a warm day it's fun to bring a picnic and find a patch of grass to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere before launching back into the day's offerings.

I'm hoping to get a break to go along to the 2-3pm slot where Jasper Fforde is in conversation with Stephen Booth.

Also there will be an exhibition of memorabilia, books and photos celebrating the life and works of Alan Sillitoe. This is all part of the campaign to raise the £50,000 needed to commission a statue to be placed in Nottingham.
There is a raffle (with proceeds going toward the fund) and the results of the Alan Sillitoe Statue Fund Short Story Competition will be announced -with readings from the successful stories.

I was very fortunate to have met Alan in 2008, he was a charming man, very unassuming, and I think a statue is a great way to honour his memory.

All events on the day are free and there's a tent for children to listen to stories and be creative. There's two chances to see children's writers Tom Palmer and Helena Pielichaty.

Plus there's always book stalls- new and second-hand (I take a large bag with me so I can carry my purchases home).

If you want more details of the day then look here.

So if you get the chance to visit, enjoy yourself.