Saturday, 28 May 2011

Writers' groups, a typo and yay, a holiday!

Good evening folks - sorry that I'm about ten hours late but it is a step-kiddy weekend and so all hell lets loose in this house and my weekly routine hits the skids.

Anyway, I did as I promised last week and knuckled down to writing every day - I even managed to take my IPad 2 into work and do a little bit during my lunch time, when I wasn't reading. I must say that owning an Ipad has made it far easier for me to snatch moments in time - mainly for research as I now have the internet with me where ever I go, but also little snippets of ideas and random thought - of which I have many!

Sadly, on Wednesday I had to cancel my attendance at my usual Mad Hatter meeting due to a crisis at school - which I won't go into. But, thankfully I managed, or rather was determined having missed one group meeting to attend the Grace Dieu Writers' Cirlce on Thursday. I read chapter one from my novel 'Her' to the group. They loved it! I received positive feedback for the characters, their setting and the chatty style. My first chapter is only a thousand words, which is pretty short but I do manage to depict the growing tension between characters - hinting at the difficulties that lie ahead. There was one detail that ignited conversation and that was 'are asparagas tips' a Christmas vegetable? Now, I've read this extract to many, many people and this was the first time that a writer/gardener had picked up on a possible inacurracy. I thanked them for noticing such a small detail, which I have since deleted. It goes to show that a writer must share their work in order to perfect it.

Continuing with typos in writitng, I experienced the disappointment of finding one in my current reading book. The author had made the mistake of calling a character by the wrong name, Lewis instead of Louis. I'd read three quarters of the book with little Louis running about on chubby little legs only to turn the page to find Lewis. I had one of those double take moments before realising that the whole page contained Lewis but then it switches back to Louis. I personally would be so upset if a published novel of mine had that kind of error. Which goes some way to explaining why I was so grateful to Tony on Thursday for pointing out the asparagas error.

Last week, I spoke about my writing place - this week I'll say a little about my reading habit. I am an avid reader, always have been since a little girl. I read everyday at numerous times of the day. I fill any spare moments before work with a page or two, lunch time is mainly reading and then I read before bedtime. I can sometimes snatcha  few pages whiel the dinner cooks, but no always. I always have several books on the go at the same time, mainly due to my location and the format; traditional book or ebook on Ipad. Beside my bed, I have Winifred Gern's biography of Emily Bronte - which I'm currently half way through. The Brontes are another of my fascination, one of many I hear you say. I have learnt that Emily seems to be the geeky/nerdy sister, being very introverted and shy in company and only being herself when amongst nature. The book is beautifully written, portarying in detail her daily life within the confines of Haworth, Yorkshire. I love how aspects of Emily's life appears within 'Wuthering Heights', from the Irish travellers in Liverpool through to incestuous neighbours living close by on the Moors.
My second current read, on ebook on Ipad is 'Meet me at the cupcake cafe ' by Jenny Colgan - this is the book mentioned earlier, but it hasn't taken away my enjoyment. This is the first ebook that I've downloaded and so far I've enjoyed the 'novelty' of electronic pages, but it isn't the same as feeling the weight of paper, print, or that book smell within your palms. Anyway, back to the novel. A light hearted chick lit, which is very funny, a little twee in places but hey, a girly book to escape too during my lunch time - which is what I want from chick-lit.
My third book, also an ebook is 'Forget you had a daughter' written by  Michael Tierney/Sandra Gregory - this book traces the real life horror of a naive British teenager caught smuggling drugs though Bangkok airport - and her struggle during her imprisonment in the notorious 'Bangkok Hilton'. I'm only on chapter two but already I'm hooked on her story. As silly as her actions were, her honesty is refreshing - she shoulders the blame from the very start delivering a strak message of just how easy it is to mix with the wrong crowd and end up in trouble.
My fourth - honestly, I am reading four books - is War and Peace by Tolstoy - with an endless cast of characters, whose names I can't even begin to pronounce. I'm not sure if I'm loving this book or loathing it. It's a book that I vowed I would one day read and so I began it at the New Year 2011 - maybe on completion I'll be able to say more, but at present the jury is still out discussing the verdict. So, that's my four (shakes head) my four books, that I am currently reading. The other books that I have read this year are noted on a side bar of my blog.

And finally, school holidays have arrived so, I am offically a writer for one whole week! Now, as I said earlier, the step-kiddies are staying but I am determined to write for at least four hours each day. Honest - I have promised myself, and now you! I shall have bum on seat, fingers on keyboard working the 'magic' early each morning so that I can spend the rest of the day decorating - hopefully!

Thanks for reading, sorry it was a late entry but the kids kept me busy with a high demand for blackcurrent squash!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Fizz 7, Derren Brown and my writing desk

Good morning, Folks. I have a confession to make, so listen up as I'll say this only once - I've have done very little writting this week due to a busy, busy schedule... but I have experienced lots of new things which all aids my writing.

Firstly, Tuesday was the poetry Fizz 7 evening, which I've reviewed in the post before this one. It was a wonderful evening, I read for the very first time, which wasn't as nerve racking as I thought it would be. I was amazed but please to see such a high turn out - which added to the occasion.

Wednesday,  I spent the majority of the evening writing the review, and saying goodbye to a fellow writer Paul who is heading to Prague for a year. Funny story alert: Paul went to the wrong location on Tuesday night for the Fizz 7. We were in the Abbey refectory, he went to the Tithe barn and interupted the local council meeting - bless him. Thankfully, he found us in time to share in the evening.

Thursday, I spent the evening in Birmingham at The Alexandra Theatre watching Derren Brown, the illusionist. Now for folks that don't know me; I love this man. He plays with your mind and scrambles your head by creating illusions, reading peoples' body language - all in the name of entertainment. But the best thing, is not knowing how he does it. Three days on, and I'm still walking about trying to figure out how he does, what he does. It was the fourth time that I've seen him and he still takes my breath away.

Friday, I shocked a class of year 10 pupils by acting out the character of Joan, a 62 years old, who collects teapots. I was asked to demonstrate how they should perform a 'character in role' piece for their speaking and listening assessment. So I did. Now you've got to remember that this particular class don't know me as well as my own classes do. My own classes know that I can suddenly start performing, drop in little funnies, as well as be the wicked witch giving out detentions. Within a space of five minutes, they were on their feet applauding, as I'd morphed into a bitter old lady, ranting about her beloved teapots being broken. Once they'd calmed down and settled back into their seats, and I morphed back into me, I explained that with creative writing you have to put yourself in another person's shoes. You have to imagine yourself as that charcater in order to write a realistic account of their behvaiour, dialogue, mannerisms - then hopefully you can capture their essences upon paper. Fingers crossed, that next week's assessment goes O.K. for them, and I'm pretty sure that the name Joan will be shouted down a corridor or two next week as I pass by.

I also surprised some of the year 11s, by creating little poetry ditties for their memory books. I don't write one for every child, just the ones that have been taken under wing, shall we say. It has been a pleasure to watch them share and enjoy the humour of words captured in a few short lines.

The school newsletter carried the story of the Polesworth Poetry Trail this week, too. I'd mentioned my poem to several people and low and behold was asked for a copy of 'Jutt' so it could appear next to the article. Again, just a small piece but it conveys to the pupils that anyone can be creative using words. I didn't realise just how much I've completed at school this week.

And finally, I thought I'd share with you the basics of my writing - where I write. In the corner of the dining room, is where my old wooden writing bureau, the kind with the flip down front, proudly resides. I searched for ages for the right desk, one which looked decorative when closed, but fully functional and most importantly, had the right feel to it. My desk, when open, has lots of tiny wooden drawers, cubby holes and nick knack slots - so that everything I could possible need is at hand. I have a row of paper weights, collected but never used which sit before me as I write. One top of the writing bureau, sits my grandfather's clock - which never strikes the right time, it is always two stricks out, so at ten o'clock it will sound twelve strikes. My hubby keeps offering to get it mended, but I don't want it touched, it reminds me of my grandfather - always slightly out of kilt with everyone else. Next to the crazy clock, I have a happy buddah, who sits next to a small glass containing coloured wax in black and white, mimicking a glass of Guinness. The Gunniess candle came from the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, where the Queeen has just visited (note: I drank the pint of Guinness whereas old Libby refused). On the other side of the crazy clock, sit three crystal eggs; a blue moonstone, a lapis lazuli and a rose quarzt - I use these to meditate with or simply play with whilst I'm thinking. My chair, which hubby/stepchildren are banned from sitting in, is a brown whicker chair, with a couple of old cushions. I bought it especially for writing, hence the reason no one is allowed to be seated - just me, oh and my beautiful cat, Czar. I also have a crystal hanging from the window, as I love to see the rainbows appear on the painted wall in the late afternoon.

Over the years I've found that it doesn't matter how much I plan to write, create time for writing I can somethings miss the slots and avoid doing the job. So, on days when I'm tired, don't feel like thinking, I go through the motions of sitting at my desk, fingers on the laptop's keyboard because the 'magic' always happens once I'm seated ready for business.

Wow, I sat down thinking I hadn't much to write about this week, but hey the words have just flowed. Enjoy your week - I have two writers' meeting this week so need to hone a few pieces to read aloud.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Mid week extra - review - New Polesworth Poets

On Tuesday night, The Fizz 7 at Polesworth Abbey refectory delivered, as promised, a night filled with original work from very talented, local poets. The evening was dedicated to the debut reading of poems selected for phase two of The Polesworth Poetry Trail of Polesworth, Warwickshire.
The evening began with Richard Meredith reading a poem written by Theo Osborn, his nine year old grandson titled ‘The magic and beauty of Malvern’ which was beautifully scripted and befitting of nature.

The New Polesworth Poets, who consist of 16 poets, performed their work in the order which they may appear on the trail, creating a vocal trail for the gathered audience. Within the audience were local historians, park rangers from Pooley Country Park and local coal miners - who’d inspired the poets with recollections of their mining days.

Brick Making Remembered by Peter Grey. Peter’s poem remembers the Polesworth Brickworks that was on the site of Ensor Drive and Kiln Way.
Pooley Hall by Gary Londgen. Gary’s poem reflects on the history of Pooley Hall and its association with the Cockayne Family with hints at a more recent resident Edwin Starr.
Unrippled by Sarah James. Sarah’s poem takes the theme of the canal and the swans and builds a link between the Abbey, the original poets and Pooley Pit.
Advice to a Geordie Lad at Pooley by Barry Patterson. Barry’s poem takes the theme of the migration of Miners from the North East of England in the 1950’s and 60’s to the Warwickshire coalfields.
Living Echoes by Gina Coates. Gina’s poem reflects on the roles of women, some once miners and then later as wives and mothers, describing their hardship and fears.
Pooley Miner’s Tale by Barry Hunt. Barry is a songwriter and musician whose father once worked in Pooley pit, his poem takes the form of a folk song incorporating the lives of the miners and their families along with the regeneration of the natural environment. As Barry was unable to attend the evening, Peter Grey delivered the song in a befitting manner.     
Women’s memories of Mining Menfolk by Dea Costelloe. Dea spent some time talking to the wives and daughters of the ex-miners for inspiration, from which she created her chatty monologue poem that is rich with memories of ordinary lives.
Pooley Pit Ponies by Margaret Torr. Margaret compares the lives of the Pooley pit ponies with that of the wild ponies of the Carmargue, who are seen as a “Gift of God”. It shows a really different outlook from the ponies’ point of view.  
In their footsteps by Marjorie Neilson. Marjorie’s poem explores the generations of miners that followed each other into the pit, also reflecting on the feelings of their mothers.  
Jutt by little old me. The poem is also about the pit ponies, one in particular who was down in Pooley pit and would only pull six loaded wagons.
A Cry by Janet Smith. Janet’s poem is a conversation between the poet and a female owl and reflects the majestic freedom of the owl.  
Them up there don’t know us down here exist by Gary Carr. Gary’s poem takes the motorway as its theme and reflects that in the rushing lives of the travellers, they do not realise that the country park exits.  
Aloft by Janis Kind. Janis’ poem takes the view point of a buzzard circling Pooley mound and reflects on its view of the motorway.
Black Swan Possibility. Jacqui’s sonnet harks back to Drayton’s poem that is on the first part of the trail, and that in Drayton’s day it was thought that Swan’s could only be white and that a black swan was a myth, and begs the question that swans could be a myriad of colours.  As Jacqui was unable to attend the evening, the poem was delivered by Margaret Torr.  
Ladies of the woods by Terri Jolland. Terri’s poem takes the silver birch trees as its theme and how they have recolonised the Pooley site. The trees take on a mystical presence as they perform this miracle of regeneration, often held in myths as protectors against witchcraft and at the same time used to make witches brooms.  
Dreams of Alvecote by Colin Henchley. Colin’s poem talks of the delight and legend of Alvecote priory as place where dreams are born and enacted in this tranquil enchanting ruin.
Kite – a collaborative poem by Malcolm Dewhirst and the year 3 children at Birchwood Primary School 2011. Malcolm was commissioned to work with the children, exploring what it would be like to be a kite, then helping the children to make their own poetry kites. The children gave Malcolm most the words to use in this poem, which explores the idea of the wise wind being the teacher and the kite being the pupil learning to fly.
Mal Dewhirst thanked everyone involved with the Polesworth Poetry Trail project, bringing the first session to a close. After a brief interval, the open mic session provided a suitable contrast enabling a host of poets to perform their work.
Andy Biddulph performed two pieces; the first a humorous account of lightening - the second called ‘On the lump’.
Terri Jolland performed her poem ‘Canal Child’ which captured the colourful imagery of life associated with the waterways.
Gary Carr read three short pieces, ‘The Other Night’, ‘Caught in Motion’ and ‘Window lickers’, which depicted the world of the poet behind glass or an invisible boundary eager to capture the passing detail.
Sarah James, from Droitwich, who performed two stunning pieces; ‘The trapped bird’ and ‘Instrumental’ each detailed the precise movement of emotion, motion and a child, her son.
Gina Coates’ poem ‘War of the roses’ retold the history of Cockayne and Burdett’s fatal duel in fields near Bramcote.
Tony Owen’s poem ‘To the East’ evoked strong emotions in relation to women of war. His second poem, ‘My father’s blue eyes’ recalled touching childhood memories of a coal mining father.
Alec Simpson’s read a short extract from his autobiography ‘A Boy at War’ recalling a tale of being lost in the fog - a warm account of his upbringing in Arbroath, Scotland.
Gary Longden’s ‘Royal Wedding’ provided a humorous slant on royal reporting. His poem ‘To whom it may concern’ was a fitting tribute to a typewriter factory which recently closed after 134 years of production.
Margaret Torr was assisted by Dea Costelloe, to deliver her poem ‘Lamant’ which depicted the tale of a mother raising a boy to becomes a miner, followed by the darker voice of the mine who takes the miner into her eternal womb.
Janet Smith recited her poem’s ‘Withen’s Walk Music’, ‘In the Priest House’ and ‘Washing off a Seam’ each beautifully tailored for performance, depicting her talents for capturing the smallest of details.
Dea Costelloe recalled a bygone age along ‘Miner’s Walk’, describing their walk to work amidst Pooley Park’s nature and the sturdy oak trees grown from their strewn apple cores.
Peter Grey delivered the harsh realities of ‘A Brick maker’s Lot’ relaying the working conditions, the unknown dangers and back breaking work in each shift.
Ian Ward delighted the audience with his short poem dedicated to home ‘My York’, then ignited the atmosphere with ‘Delta Devil Blues’ a favorite piece for several of the poets.
Hench gave a dramatic finale to the evening with his poem ‘The reflection strata – the little veins of Pooley park’ consisting of four poems, four styles and four stanzas, representing four strata layers beneath Pooley Park.

All in all, a fabulous evening crammed with the very best poetry, all home grown and honed within the Midlands area. The next Poetry Fizz 8 is on Tuesday, 19th July, at Polesworth Abbey refectory and will feature Matt Merritt – doors open at 7ish with a prompt start at 7.30pm – everyone is welcome! For further details: Mal Dewhirst’s blog, 

Friday, 20th May - Spoken Worlds at The Old Cottage Tavern, Byrkley Street, Burton-on-Trent. An open mic event organized by Gary Carr begins at 7.30pm – everyone welcome – for further details please ring Gary on 07791 654 908

This was just an extra post that I thought I'd post mid week as a cheeky treat. See you Saturday. Enjoy!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Twitter, writing groups and a local newspaper article

Good morning folks! The sun is shining which is always a good start to the day. I'm earlier than usual on a Saturday morning, because I've got to head out to school to help teach a last minute revision class, for year 11 pupils, as they have a GCSE English exam on Monday morning. I'm wondering how many will actually drag their back sides out of bed to attend - 20? 30? 2?

I've had a great week on the writing front. I have managed to edit another two chapters of my novel 'Her' which is a major achievement for me. I can feel the book coming to life as I write.

I've joined 'Twitter' as a means of keeping up, or rather being nosey regards publishers/authors and their daily work. Which has led me to realise that an author literally has three novels on the go at once, each at different stages. Book one is with the publishers, whilst you proofread Book 2 and write Book 3 - necessary note: this is after your first one is accepted, obviously.  It's a bit like the three vests system for a newborn baby: one wearing, one washing and one in the cupboard. So, should you wish to follow me on a daily basis via 'Twitter' as well as the weekly blog ... the  name is ODwyer_author.

As I mentioned last week, I planned to attend two writers' groups this week. And, I was as good as my word. Wednesday night, I went to my usual Mad Hatters of Atherstone - it was lovely to see a fellow member, Paul, who had moved away from the area but came back to visit. I read an extract from chapter six of  'Her' and the group agreed that a monologue wasn't the best style befitting the scene - so Thursday, I re-wrote the extract and added lots of 'showing'. Thursday evening, saw my first visit to The Grace Dieu Writer's circle in Colaville - I'm glad to report they are a lovely bunch. I immediately felt at home and coughed up the annual subs as a way of guaranteeing my return in a fortnight. One very talented lady called Nicky, wrote a poem during the meeting!!!!! Inspiration stuck her whilst listening to another member read his short story aloud and bingo, bango by the time he'd finished, so had she. Her poem, called 'Trees', was then read aloud to the group. Truely amazing!

Friday morning brought an email announcing that an article and accompanying picture of the new Polesworth poets was printed in the local newspaper. I quickly text Hubby with a request to go and purchase two copies. Why two? I don't know. I suppose I'll read one and add the other to a memory scrap book. Then I phoned my mother to inform her that I'd actually had  a poem selected. I hadn't told her previously, because as mentioned on here previously my writing isn't something that I share with my family - you'll understand why in a moment. I explained all the ins and outs of the Poetry Trail, and sent her off to buy the local newpaper. She phoned me on the evening to say she'd read the article and then asked 'Is there anyone in the picture that we know?' What???? 'Eh yes, me, on the front row!' Parents, don't you just love them.

On that chuckle, I have to leave you to go and count how many sleepy head year 11s have turned up to revise English - my money is on ten. Enjoy!

Follow on: 24 teenagers!!! I'm in shock, they all arrived washed, dressed and for some, fully awake. Even more of a surprise is that they listened, discussed and took home past papers to practise for their big exam on Monday. Bless um - they drive me potty most days but today I could squeeze them (though of course by law I'm not allowed too).

Anyhow, I'm now back home and ready to knuckle down to my usual Saturday writing session.  My plans this week include the Fizz 7 poetry event on Tuesday night at Polesworth Abbey, where all 16 poems for the Polesworth Poetry Trail will be read. This will be the first time I've stood up and performed - so I'll touch the fireplace, as is now custom, just for some extra good luck.

I almost forgot to say my 'April Fool list' of 40 things to complete in my 40th year has been added to my blog. I've managed to write about each one as I've completed it, so that little book is coming along nicely. Number 40 has been left empty - ready and waiting for an unforeseen opportunity that may come my way!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Chapters, short stories and a pit pony called Jutt

Morning folks, from a damp and dreary Warwickshire. The forecast rain has started and looks as if writing will be the only option for the whole weekend - yay! I've had the best week ever. Firstly, I've managed to continue the daily writing routine that I started in the Easter break; the result being two completed chapters this week! I was quite amazed, I usually struggle to get one polished and edited. But onwards and upwards, so they say. I now have ten chapters, which I consider, complete and ready to send to an agent when the time comes. Last week I printed a hard copy of my draft and have found this an invaluable tool, as it means I can read ahead of my computer screen, correct details and pick out specific sections to bring forward to knit together for the next chapter - my book is simply one big word jigsaw on paper. Anyhow, my plan for this week is to continue the routine, come what may.

I've got several ideas on the horizon, one being  an entry for which is asking for the opening chapters of unpublished novels, the rules are pretty specific so take a look before deciding.

The second idea, being a visit to the Grace Dieu writers circle based near Coalville. Why I hear you cry? Well, the honest truth is that I'm not networking with as many writers as I know I should be - simple. I attend the Mad Hatters' writers' Group in Atherstone, which I love but I know that I need to spread my wings further a field and meet other local writers. meet every fortnight on a Thursday, which slots in right behind my Mad Hatters' meet every fortnight on Wednesday evenings. Fingers crossed, I shall have more to report next week.

Now.... and this needs a drum roll for certain.... the final 16 poems for The Polesworth Poerty Trail - phase two have been announced. I'm proud to report that my poem 'Jutt', about a pit pony was chosen;-


Russet, rotund and stumpy; Welsh hooves steadfast.
Seven coal tubs harnessed: each ten hundred weight.
"Gee up, Jutt" - neigh.
No lug, no haul or drag.
Coaxing, hollering, tempting.
Static, silent, staring.
He's determined, unyielding, never undermined.
Release, unlatch, remove.
Six coal tubs harnessed: each ten hundred weight.
"Gee up, Jutt" - the pony lumbers forth.

I'm sure that the 15 poets also chosen were delighted with their work, too.

Brick Making Remembered – By Peter Grey
Pooley Hall – By Gary Longden
Unrippled – By Sarah James
Advice to a Geordie Lad at Pooley - By Barry Patterson
Living Echoes - By Gina Coates
The Pooley Miners Tale  - By Barry Hunt
Women’s Memories of Mining Menfolk - By Dea Costelloe
Pooley Pit Ponies - By Margaret Torr.
In their Footsteps - By Marjorie Neilson
A Cry – By Janet Smith
Them up there don’t know us down here exist – By Gary Carr.
Aloft – By Janis Kind
Black Swan Possibility – By Jacqui Rowe
Ladies of the Woods – By Terri Jolland
Dreams of Alvecote – By Colin Henchley
Kite – Collaborative poem by Malcolm Dewhirst and The Year 3 Children at Birchwood Primary School 2011.

It's worth taking a look at the Pollysword link for more details of The Polesworth Poetry Trail and its organiser Mal Dewhirst.

Followers of the blog know that I entered two poems 'Jutt' and another called 'Pooley Hall' which I had the pleasure of visiting by way of research. I'd said from the start that I'm not a poet, I'm a writer - which is underlined by the fact that the poem chosen tells the story of Jutt, and it came into being in a flourish of creative thought rather than detailed research, drafting and to be quite honest, weeks of hard work from which Pooley Hall came.

A word about my short story submissions. I have received notice that my short story 'Hush little baby, don't say a word' has been received by 'Take a Break' magazine. No, they don't have a system of informing you, but I always put a self addressed, stamped postcard in with all my submission work which the postroom staff return on opening my submission envelope - a simple way of knowing that my work has arrived safely, plus an indicator that I can now post my next offering 'Vibes and Jibes'.

I now plan to write a short story aimed at 'The Peoples Friend' magazine, which is a completely different genre to 'Take a Break' magazine but it'll do me no harm climbing out of my comfort zone. I've bought several issues, have read and analysed each story; style, topic, characters, word lenght, punctuation and advert content (as a guage to audience readers) - now for the fun part, writing to their requirement - as always, I'll let you know how I get on.

And finally, a big shout out to all my readers - I regularly check where folks are from via a statistics page which has a tiny globe showing a reader's country of origin. I'm delighted and amazed at the range of countries where you guys are reading from, quite humbled infact. I do up-date my 'visitors from afar' section on my blog, so please check it out and know that I do appreciate your following.

As I mentioned earlier it's been a full week, so I'll love you and leave, as I need to dash to the post box to send my next submission and purchase lemon bon bons from the sweet shop. Enjoy!