Contemporary Poet and Writer, Anna Mae, kindly joined us (via Zoom) for the evening as our guest speaker.
Anna "talked some; read some; and answered some."
It was a honest and frank presentation - both moving and humorous!
Anna mentioned her early life growing up in Watford; and her varied life experiences that have influenced and shaped her work. She also read a number of poems - many of which feature in her book.
Anna also shared her journey to publication - the encouragement she received; her academic success and reception to her work by audiences. She also mentioned her ongoing workshops in schools and prisons; as well as forums and festivals she has performed her work.
Anna published an ebook in 2010 entitled, 'A Bit of Spirit & A Lot of Spit: The Journey of Psychic Tarot Reader from Premonition to Bereavement and Domestic Violence to Freedom Told Through Her Original Style of Prose and Poetry.' Available via Amazon.
Anna is currently re-editing her book
News to follow when the new edition is available.
Watford Writers would like to express its sincere thanks to Anna for a splendid evening; and wish her every continuing success.
This month's Flash Fiction was in association with Bushey Museum and Art Gallery. It was a very competitive competition with 7 entries separated by just 5 points! Well done to everyone who entered.
Many congratulations to the following:
> Joint 1st Place: Lesley Kerr - Another Life: A Fairytale; and Brian Bold - Framed.
> 2nd Place: Jan Rees - Repeating the Pattern
> 3rd Place: Mike Lansdown - A Precious Secret
> Ann Crago - Agony
> David Elliott - A Good Match
> Chris McDermott - Girl in Blue
An Anthology entitled ‘When This is All Over …’ in aid of the Rennie Grove Hospice Care which is a charity providing specialist nursing care and support for adults and children with a life-limiting illness.
Do write about your thoughts, wishes, hopes, reflections, experiences at this time: what is happening in your world and what is happening to the world out there.
Please send me any poems (Haiku? Limericks? Clerihew? Sonnets? Freestyle?) fiction or creative non-fiction up to 200 words for the anthology. Also, give me one sentence describing yourself and where you come from.
Submissions free and from all ages welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no limit to submissions and published successes are welcome too.
The closing date for now is September 30th. I’ve had submissions from 9 to 90 year olds and from Dublin, Spain, South Africa, USA, Holland and Birmingham. We’re all in it together.
Thank you once again for entering the Historic Houses Short Story Competition 2020 and apologies for the delay in updating you on the competition status. I'd like to take this opportunity to let you know how the judging is progressing and when you can expect to hear the results.
As you know, the deadline for entering the competition was Sunday 14th June 2020, and we've had well over excellent 100 stories submitted. Of those submitted, an astonishing 84 different historic houses have been mentioned, while your stories have ranged from imagined dialogues between historic figures, to fictional diary entries, to comedies, horror and tragedies. We're thrilled to see so much enthusiasm for the competition and for the houses that you clearly know and love so well.
As you'll probably have noted from our Friday e-bulletins, the easing of restrictions across the UK from the end of May has happily meant that more and more Historic Houses places are re-opening to visitors. While this is, of course, a very welcome development, it has meant that we've been particularly busy keeping abreast of the re-opening updates for each of our 300+ houses in the member access scheme, and so unfortunately have not been able to format, read and judge all of your entries yet, given the significant number and quality of stories submitted.
Therefore, we will need to push back the release date of the results to Friday 21st August 2020. The announcement will be made at the top of the e-bulletin that day, while we will also email you all directly.
Apologies for the delay with the announcement and, once again, thank you for spending the time to write such wonderful and imaginative stories. If you have any questions about anything please do email me directly.
With very best wishes,
Digital Officer, Historic Houses
It was a pleasure to welcome Children's author, Nick Lloyd-Davies, who joined Watford Writers (via Zoom) as guest on Monday 6 July.
Nick told us about his self publishing journey with all its benefits and perils - print-runs, IBSNs, cost, issues with promotion and marketing, distribution, and author's expectations versus publisher. Nick also mentioned his efforts toward getting a traditional publisher contract.
Nick told us how his stories have been received by children, including his own. There was a discussion about the mechanics of writing - target audience, presentation and image of the books through illustration, and even word counts.
The difficulties in being a part time author - Nick revealed that a two-hour commute to London became his "writing window" using his most valuable tool - a Macbook air! ...and how he also grabs the odd 30 minutes / hour here and there to write.
Nick lives in Surrey with his wife, Amanda; two children, Calypso and Oscar; and two cats, Fluff and Cookie. After making up so many adventure stories during Calypso and Oscar’s bedtime, he figured it was about time other children got to hear them too. Lloyd-Davies works by day as a town planner and by night (or on the way to work!) as a children’s’ author.
You may wish to take a look at Nick's "Amazon" author page.
Nick's latest book, Katie Helps a Turtle with Tummy Ache is out now! It deals with ocean plastic pollution and has a foreword from television presenter and well known rambler, Julia Bradbury. It’s also on the Julia Bradbury website at:
There is also a foreword from the Marine researcher who discovered the ocean plastic in the Pitcairn Islands: https://adriftlab.org/news/2020/collaborating-for-childrens-literature
Katie Helps a Turtle with Tummy Ache: A Glowstone Adventure (Glowstone Adventures): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1798563991/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_sEk3EbAQ50BCF
Thanks to Kay Hall for letting us know about this resource.
Writing can be a solitary activity but that doesn’t mean you’re on your own! These free guides, podcasts and interviews provide a wealth of advice, techniques and tips for being a more productive writer. Make sure you bookmark this page as we add new items every month.
Katharine McMahon's novel, The Hour of Separation.
The story set in our very own Watford, and a fictional farm in Belgium during two world wars, is a tale of human endurance, heroism and love, resonating powerfully with the challenges we are facing right now.
Katharine McMahon is the author of 10 novels, including The Hour of Separation; and the bestselling The Rose of Sebastopol, which was a Richard and Judy pick for 2007.
Her evolving theme is drawing astonishing women from the shadows, and revealing passionate and extraordinary lives, even at times when to be different and powerful risked everything if you were female. All her fictional characters have foundations in real historical characters.
She has experience as a teacher and trainer, and has been fortunate to serve on the Sentencing Council of England and Wales, and the Judicial Appointments Commission, as a magistrate. She has run Guardian Masterclasses on historical fiction, and has newly been appointed Education Projects Manager for the Royal Literary Fund.
She co-wrote a song, performed on Radio Four called Check-out Lil, and writes from a hut in her very small back garden.
Find Katharine McMahon on twitter @McKatharine
by Helen Nicell
Many congratulations to Helen for achieving first place in this year's Watford Area Arts Forum competition.
See below link to read Helen's entry.
Helen also scooped second place for her collage embroidery entitled 'Supermoon, Socially Distant Artist.'
In association with Watford Borough Council (WBC), Watford Area Arts Forum (WAAF) ran the annual competition virtually this year and the theme was ‘VISION’. WAAF invited interpretations on the theme in any art form or in writing.
WBC supported the competition as part of the Watford Together initiative. The winners of each category will receive a trophy and a £50 cash prize, 2nd prize of £30 and 3rd prize of £20 kindly donated by WBC.
The competition took a different format this year as a physical exhibition was not possible. The judging took place online by members of the public.
Dreaming (After Imagine, John Lennon)
by Andrea Neidle
Many congratulations to Andrea for achieving second place in this year's Watford Area Arts Forum competition.
See below link to read Andrea's entry.
Watford Writers welcomed Karl Vadaszffy back in February, who kindly told us about his writing career and the stages that led to the successful publication of his book The First Lie,
(written using his pen name: A.J. Park) in 2019.
The paperback is to be published on 25 June 2020.
For a summary of Karl's evening with us, please scroll below to the News Item.
Applications for Watford Fringe are now open. We have decided to go ahead with applications to get ready for this exciting festival in October. We realise that everything has changed this year and we have been busy preparing for back up.
We have worked hard to plan a flexible set of safe venue options that incorporate social distancing and other considerations. We have added online facilities so that the events can reach an audience that cannot or are reluctant to attend live events in person. We also contingency plans to cope with any last-minute changes in government or health advice.
Watford Fringe should provide a safe, flexible option for performers and audiences to enjoy quality artistic events during a period when larger events have not been available for us all to enjoy.
To be part of the Watford Fringe (WatFringe) and included in the programme, you will need to register your event online by completing and submitting an online event registration through Eventotron. https://www.eventotron.com/. You will need to set up an account with Eventotron, then click on Festivals and click on Watford Fringe. You can start your registration by submitting some initial details about you and your event.
If you need any help along the way when registering your event, please contact us by emailing email@example.com.
We will then review the initial submission and approve your application. After approval you will be able to continue providing more detail using Eventotron system, connect you with venues and allow you to provide artwork and promotion information that we will use in the brochure and online.
After initial approval, to complete all remaining stages of the registration you will need to have the following things confirmed:
Applications for events that will be included in the printed brochure will need to be complete by the end of July. Applications that will be included in online listings need to be complete by 4th September 2020.
If you have any queries regarding any of the above please do not hesitate to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author, PR and Marketing Consultant, Ruth Badley, joined Watford Writers online on 1 June 2020. In a two-hour session, Ruth kindly provided an in-depth presentation on her career, writing and motivation in producing her book Where are the grown-ups?
Ruth described the stages and techniques that she used during the research for the book; and has produced a list of further reading to help other writers. Please see link below this page to download Ruth's list.
Ruth also explained the key role in how objects, news events, music, can conjure up memories that can assist when researching and writing a memoir. She also confirmed the need to step back from time to time, especially when the writing craft takes over using research.
Ruth mentioned how she has promoted her work in the media and online. Her blog has a complete promotional record. With her PR and Marketing expertise, Ruth was able to detail precisely the need for consistency and the benefits from having a plan in place if a writer goes it alone to self-publish and promote. Please see below for a link to Ruth's blog.
Watford Writers would like to express sincere thanks to Ruth for her time, presentation and advice. Absolutely wonderful.
Author's Facebook Page: @wherearethegrownups
WHERE ARE THE GROWN-UPS?
Ruth Badley. (Published by Inglebooks, July 2019)
Sylvia is dying. Ruth is at her bedside.
A lifetime of loss and misunderstanding lies between mother and daughter. In this coming of age story, a whispered family tragedy casts a shadow across three generations.
It’s 1930 and in London’s Jewish East End, Rose is expecting a baby.
When the natural order is disrupted,
and part of our personal history is erased,
who do we become?
The book is a memoir which has its origins in the personal relationship between Ruth and her Mother. Stretching back to the early years of the 20th century, through meticulous research, Ruth was able to trace her family to the London's East End and reveal a very intimate story, at times a very poignant story.
Reviews of her book have been outstanding. Here are a few:
"The writing is fresh, smart and both observational and engaging - the author is a key, brave and sensitive player in this three act drama."
"The author has the skill to make this very personal story into one that many daughters and families will relate to."
Author's Facebook Page: @wherearethegrownups
Jericho Writers are holding a Summer Festival of Writing starting Monday 1 June. For full details, programme and booking: https://jerichowriters.com/the-summer-festival-of-writing-2020-v2/
National Poetry Library have a large collection of brilliant, moving, funny and groundbreaking poems that you can read online, as well as a quote-finding service.
Well worth a look and signing up to their newsletter.
On 10 February 2020, we welcomed our first guest speaker of the year. Karl Vadaszffy, Karl's writing pen name is now A.J. Park. He had his first Crime Thriller novel The First Lie published last year. By day, Karl is Head of English at St Michael's Catholic School in Watford.
The journey to being accepted by one of the UK's largest publishers has taken Karl ten years of hard effort and determination. Diligently working and correcting his drafts, Karl wrote and published the following books as Karl Vadaszffy:
The Missing (2013); Sins of the Father (2014); Don’t speak; and most recently writing as A.J.Park, The First Lie in 2019.
Karl discussed the influence other writers and books had and continues to have on his writing and listed the following in particular:
The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
Haven’t they Grown and Little Face by Sophie Hannah
A fellow writer and poet who has inspired and supported Karl is the award winning Sophie Hannah. Karl turned to crime fiction as a direct result of Sophie's encouragement. Other writers who have inspired Karl include Quentin Bates, William Ryan, and Adrian Magson.
Karl provided us all with tremendous insights into getting published and kindly took a number of questions from the floor. There was an excellent discussion on the success of crime writing; but also Karl's other work including article writing for various magazines.
The First Lie is a fast-paced psychological thriller published by Orion Fiction, whose authors include global bestsellers Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Steve Cavanagh and Alex Michaelides.
The First Lie is available as an ebook, audio book and large format paperback. https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Lie-J-Park/dp/1409187438
The regular paperback will be released on 25 June 2020.
Book two is due to follow in 2021.