GUEST SPEAKER: ANDI MICHAEL (aka Andrea Michael)
Andi kindly joined us for the evening and took us through "endings" - what makes a good ending? Has there been any examples of good endings or endings that have left readers wanting to know more? What techniques can be used to arrive at endings and do writers know how their books will end when they start actually writing?
All these questions and more were addressed in an open discussion with group members and there were lots of helpful hints and tips along the way. Group members freely discussed their own experiences of writing and fashioning "endings" - some excellent examples of different endings were mentioned from their work and indeed, work of other authors.
Andi set the group a task during the break to come up with some endings based on characters in their books or situations that could be used to determine an ending.
Andi kindly shared her "writing and publishing" experience with the group during the evening; and there was a very interesting "Q and A" to close.
It was a thoroughly good evening, enjoyed attended by 25 group members.
Watford Writers are very grateful for Andi's time and helpful hints and tips...
Andi Michael studied English Lit with Creative Writing at University of East Anglia, followed by an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and later an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, where she ran workshops exploring the application of creative writing in the recovery from eating disorders. Her first novel was literary fiction for Stairwell Books, followed by 10 romantic comedies for HQ Digital (HarperCollins) and Canelo. She’s now rebranded and is writing ‘book club’ fiction for One More Chapter/Avon. She is represented by the Madeleine Milburn Agency...
(Thanks to Andrea for this):
MUSIC: Mary Ann Ephgrave for her work 'Song for Jim'
POETRY: David Bramhall for his work 'Snape Maltings'
ART: Paddy Darby for her work 'Far from the Madding Crowd: Spring Walk'
DRAMA: Ron Fernee for his work 'Stargazey Pie'
SHORT STORY: Anne Powell for her work 'The Lengthened Shadow of Man is History'
CHAIRMAN'S PRIZE: John Wragg for his work 'Four-Worlds Window'
and our runners up for the CHAIRMAN'S PRIZE: Geraldine Aron, Frederick Naftel and Dorothy Jenkins for their works
Writing a novel alone can be difficult, even for seasoned writers. NaNoWriMo helps track your progress, set milestones, connect with other writers in a vast community, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your novel. Oh, and best of all, it’s free!
November is 'National Novel Writing Month' and there is lots of guidance available for would-be novelists available through the NaNovWriMo organisation.
Cambridge University's Institute for Continung Learning is now taking bookings for the following courses, which will be delivered via live Zoom teaching sessions across one or more days.
For more details about each course and in order to book your place, please click on the links below:
Telling your family story - Derek Niemann
28th and 29th November 2020 (teaching delivered over two days)
Writing made easy - Menna van Praag
29th November 2020 (one day intensive)
Shakespeare and magic - Valentin Gerlier
14th and 15th November (teaching sessions over two days)
Writing picture books - Pippa Goodhart
13th and 14th February 2021 (teaching sessions over two days)
Courses opening for bookings soon...
Historical Fiction - Elizabeth Speller
How to succeed as a crime writer: from first steps to achieving your goal - Sophie Hannah
6th and 7th March 2021
One day, one novel: Jane Eyre - Jenny Bavidge
Shakespeare and metaphor - Josie O'Donoghue
For more details:
The Academic Centre Administration Team: Creative Writing, Literature, Film Studies
Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge
Madingley Hall, Madingley, Cambridge CB23 8AQ
Thank you to all who have submitted to the anthology When This is All Over … which is in aid of the Rennie Grove Nurses. Already there has been over 300 submissions from across the globe.
In the light of events, the deadline is extended for another six months until March 31st, 2021. The key to this decision is, well – in the title.
The brief is: poems or prose (fiction or creative non-fiction) up to 200 words. Add a sentence or two about yourself and where you come from. (Do mention any of your word wares.) You can have published your piece elsewhere. An attached Word document is helpful with your name on the submission. And please spread the word.
We are particularly interested in knowing about what has happened in your geographical corner, your work or retirement. This will be a historical document and getting a true reflection of how we are dealing with the pandemic is where our light should shine. So even if you have already submitted, please keep doing so. It’s good to be in touch. Just avoid the word ‘unprecedented’ please.
All good wishes – Jan Moran Neil www.janmoranneil.co.uk
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GEORGIANA JANE HENDERSON (1771 - 1850)
This book provides a flavour of a period of history known as the Enlightenment through the eyes of a young girl born in 1771. Georgiana Jane Henderson (nee Keate) was known to actors, actresses, artists, naval men, emigres and even a South Sea islander and visited England's spa towns. She had her portrait painted by Angelica Kauffman RA and John Russell RA.
Mike Lansdown has achieved "Runner-Up" position in this year's Hertfordshire Year of Culture Friends and Family creative writing competition. His poem, entitled Welcome to the Family was highly praised by the judges who commented: ‘Welcome to the Family was wonderfully ambitious with a truly panoramic reach. There were some memorable lines - 'Antecedent and ancestral, Antediluvian' which demonstrated a real love of language.’
As a runner up, Mike's poem, along with that of the winner and the other shortlisted entry will become part of Herts Memories the Online Community Archive. The results of the competition will also be announced in the Year of Culture September newsletter for September which will include a copy of the three shortlisted entries.
Mike has also been recognised this month for his work with 'Penn Pushers' - a writing group focussing on autobiographies at Mill End Community Centre. Mike was presented with a Volunteer's Medal by the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire.
Many congratulations Mike from all of us at Watford Writers.
(Thanks to Andrea for this)
The next in our series of writing guides is here, this time by National Poetry Competition 2018 commended poet Ella Frears. Ella's resource explore how poems can be made timeless, looking at poems exploring the unknowable and inexpressible - and the way the timelessness of those poems can apply to the here and now.
1. Think of someone you love (alive or not). Set a timer for five minutes. List as many small details as you can as though you are drawing them, e.g. small scar on left hand the shape of a forward slash, soft dark arm hair, slightly curly... etc.
2. Go for a walk. If you can’t, think of a path or street you know well and take yourself down it in your mind. Take notes.
• what can you see?
• what are you thinking?
• what is the sky doing?
• what is the light like?
• are you warm? Cold?
3. Return to your notes about the person you love. Choose a few favourite details.
4. Write a poem about the person you love, using only images, sensations and noises from your walk. Refrain from telling us directly how you feel about them, what your relationship is. Saturate the landscape with these feelings.
5. If the poem feels like it needs something else, try adding your chosen details about that person.
Again, here's a link to the full writing guide, which uses the above prompts (and more!) in the context of two previous National Poetry Competition poems: John Wedgwood Clarke's poem 'Stubble', and 'Through the Square Window' by Sinéad Morrissey.
These guides are available to help you in your own creative practice whether or not you're planning on entering the finished poem into the competition - but if you would like to enter, remember that you can do so online, and the closing date is 31 October.
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.
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.
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
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.