So it’s nearly time to say goodbye to my posts showcasing the work of the Wentworth Writers but not before I share the work of three lovely ladies. (I’m tempted to rewrite that, actually, as one of the pieces is mine...) A big ‘thank you’ to Jacqueline Woods for waiting patiently while Hester and myself got ourselves together. So, here we are - three letters written in the style of Robert Pirosh’s famous Hollywood letter of application.
I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have loved putting it together. I think after this one has gone live I will revisit the first and read them all once again, together. If you would like to join us at Wentworth next year, details of how to book will be posted on NAWG’s shiny new website in due course. In the meantime, why not have a look at what else the organisation has to offer? Visit www.nawg.co.uk.
Our Letters (Part 3)
I like making things. I like sticky, gluey, messy things which leave crusty globs on the carpet and a skin-like film on my hands. I like delicate, intricate things which rest perfectly in my palm and come into existence slowly, reverently, without regard for the pressing demands of the day. I like childish things with vibrant colours and shapes as bold as the young faces which inspire me.
Above all, I like working with my hands and my mind aligned; harmonious in my quiet and gentle rhythm of creativity.
Please may I make something for you?
I have written and self-published a book of which I am very proud but hardly anyone has read..! (available HERE). It's only 99p on Kindle.
I’m still writing bits and pieces but my free time recently has been spent trying to build up two Etsy shops. One is aimed at writers and lovers of literature: Candelabracrafts.Etsy.com and the other at families with young kids: CandelabraFamily.Etsy.com. It’s hard going getting the views so do drop by for a browse...
If you have read this far then I can’t thank you enough. Goodbye for now from the Wentworth Writers.
Next time: - something with an Italian flavour...
[I’m now stressing that I haven’t put the word ‘parody’ to its correct use. Apparently a parody is ‘a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of writing’. The Pirosh letter is not at all serious but never mind. (It’s honestly really stressful writing about writers. I’m now fretting about the square brackets...)]
Anyway, read on and enjoy. First up is Yvonne. Make sure you read all the way down to Henry; he doesn't deserve to be at the bottom of anything other than a long drink!
Our Letters (Part 2)
I like eating. I like large squashy things like gateaux, trifles and fruit jellies. I like savoury aperitifs such as olives, small nibbles of pastry rich pates of game and mushroom, sharp compotes, of exotic fare on the tongue. I like Sunday dinners; roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, lamb with mint and rosemary, and pork with crisp salty crackling. All of which is served with roast potatoes; crispy crunchy outside but soft inside, and beautiful meat juice gravies.
I like cheese, butter, and full cream. Whipped, churned, goats, cow or alpaca. But most of all I like preparing quality food at the right price so that I can eat it; savouring each bite of my tasty platefuls.
Madam I am here, having eaten in fine restaurants, tavernas, cafes in Italy, France and Wales; to offer myself to you as the school cook. May I come over and offer you some of my temptations?
Frances A. Flint
I like trees. I especially like Willows as they hug the Earth around them and dip their leafy fingers in a passing stream. I like when I can snuggle in to their raised roots and curl up like a resident, gazing up through myriad branches and rest my eyes in cool green.
I also like upright trees, huggable trunks and spiral branches that invite me up in to the canopy, stepping high, past nests and tiny caves, a nod to my neighbours as I reach for the highest thinnest branch.
I like to walk in Forests, breathing with the Earth’s lungs.
I can see the wood for the trees.
May I take a walk in the woods for you?
I do love trees! I also love people and have spent most of my working life in mental health and wellbeing, learning about the myriad ways in which we all mess things up, push through the trouble, and come out the other side more resilient than before…then go and do the same thing again!!
I have a memory of being praised for a story I had written in my English class at school, which sparked a love of creating other worlds in my head, some of which I wrote down, some which have stayed as little escape planets for me to visit when needed. Over the years I have written lots of short stories, some shorter that they should be, or as they are known, unfinished.
I really enjoyed my weekend at Wentworth and never cease to be inspired by the tutors and fellow students, it is thrilling to hear the many different styles and imaginings.
Back home in Coventry I belong to the Writers Hub, run by our wonderful inspiration Jo Roberts, who never fails to encourage and enlighten.
I continue to dream and plot and plant the roots of stories that one day will bare fruit.
I am presently developing a freelance Mindfulness training business, and plan to use my Facebook page to write about wellbeing and story telling.
It’s just a baby now, so a fairly clean slate, but you can contact me at @franflint55
Frances A. Flint
[Date as postmark]
I like flying and aeroplanes. I like oily, wiry, stringy, canvassy, deafening, gale-force,
shiny, metallic, aerofoils. I like being windblown, smelling leather, being goggled, in cloud-torn
skies, winged, floating, banking, zooming, turning, soaring and diving. I like roaring, lifting,
sailing, thrusting, looping, making contrails, through cumulus, reaching the stratosphere. I also quite
like landing, safely.
May I be a pilot with your airline ?
(Name and address withheld)
As a child I was fascinated by insects, dinosaurs, books, aeroplanes, poetry and steam engines. Nothing changes! But since the 1990s I've had a passion for dragonflies, especially photographing them. I was involved in the Dragonfly Sanctuary, the Dragonfly Museum and the Dragonfly Project at Wicken Fen prior to joining the Board of Trustees of the British Dragonfly Society in 2006.
My paid career took me into telecomms and project management, but after 45 years I figured it was time to throw in the towel, so I retired in 2015 and started to renew my interest in writing, among other things. After taking a creative writing course in 2016 I now dabble in short stories and poetry and hope to self-publish my first book soon. Peterborough Writers’ Group and The National Association of Writers’ Groups are a great support and I have made many new friends, especially at Wentworth and the Festival at Warwick Uni.
Note from Editor: I really hope you’ve enjoyed this batch of letters and also finding out a little about the people behind the words. A hearty thank you to those who have participated so far. The next post will be the final one in this series so I suppose I had better dig out my letter. It will appear alongside the fabulous contribution by Jacky Pemberton and I am also hoping for Hester to pull her finger out (nudge, nudge).
In the meantime I am always hoping for new subscribers to my list for blog updates so please do fill out the box on the upper right hand side if you are interested. Each new subscriber keeps me going. I can be found on Facebook under many different guises but my writing page is @bmkeeling and my literary gift shop is @candelabracrafts.
Well this is no ordinary blog post. This is the first in a series of three special posts in which I have the privilege of publishing the collective works of the merry band of writers, of which I was one, who attended a workshop by Leonora Rustamova at Wentworth in May. The Wentworth weekend is organised by The National Association of Writers' Groups and you can read my post on the entire weekend HERE.
The workshop took place on the Sunday morning of the retreat. There were around 15 of us in attendance and we engaged in two writing exercises. We each read out our pieces and there was some great work there. It’s amazing how words can just tumble onto a page one minute and then dry up the next. On this particular day, the words were tumbling, cascading and even pirouetting from our pens and onto the paper. As these little gems were being read out and we were laughing and clapping each other along, it struck me that so many such pieces are produced in workshops and then stuffed into a notebook or file, never to be seen again. When Leonora voiced what I was thinking, I knew what I had to do - I had to publish these literary saplings, together, as a consolidated piece of work by the Wentworth Writers. There are, though, too many words for one single post so I’m splitting it into three.
This is the first.
Actually it was a copy of a letter penned by Hollywood screenwriter, Robert Pirosh, in 1934. He ditched his job as a copywriter in New York and moved to Hollywood. But he needed to get his foot in the door in a city full of people all trying to get their extremities into the same aperture. So what did he do? He sent out his c.v. attached to one of the most effective cover letters ever written. I would dearly love to reproduce it here but I am uncertain of its copyright status, although it can be read on the Guardian’s website by clicking HERE.
If you have a spare few minutes and have any interest in writing, or indeed job application letters (!), I urge you to take a look. It will also make sense of the pieces which follow. The letter is unconventional and breaks many rules of etiquette but perfectly demonstrates the writer’s suitability for the screenwriting job in question.
Our task was to write an application letter in the same vein, although we sought only to emulate the style of writing; clearly we could not achieve the same thing as Pirosh given that none of us were seeking to use the medium of a letter to inherently demonstrate our suitability for a job involving words...
This is what we produced. Bear in mind that these pieces were written in 15 minutes and have not been reworked.
First up is Anne. Please take a deep breath, relax your shoulders and absorb her beautiful words.
I like art. I like to see through the eyes of others.
I like rough, elemental sketches, lush huge canvases of people and places, and every art form in between.
I like to be taken aback by a scene reduced to sparse lines and a view suggested by mere smears of colours juxtaposed to take me to a place I have seen, or one I would love to see.
I like the intricate building of a landscape or cityscape in such exquisite detail that makes it impossible to take in the the view in one viewing.
I like to be outraged by a picture that represents a person or a place in a way foreign to me, I like the conversation evoked.
I like to be taken aback by superb skills and to be blown over by the deceptively child-like simplicity of some work.
I like to return and return to a picture to learn more and yet more.
I love Hockney and Rembrandt and Van Gogh and Andy Goldsworthy and Dan Viola, and am unreasonably excited by a very small child’s first recognisable drawing.
I need to read so that I can live more lives than mine. I need to visit art works for the very same reason.
Please let me work in your wonderful gallery.
I called my collection of poetry and photographs ‘Casting for Words’ as that is what I seem to spend so much time doing. Finding the best word I can. Reading is an essential part of my life and a wonderful source of ideas and...words.
Photographs help capture the moment and can sometimes illustrate a poem.
My book should soon be available.
Holmfirth Writers’ Group and The National Association of Writers’ Groups are a wonderful support and I value both as great friendship groups.
I doodle as I listen. It really does concentrate my mind.
Just whatever I have in my hand.
I once drew a jazz group on a Sunday paper. In biro. It drew me into the music.
Leonora shared some brilliant letters and asked us to write letters of application.
Above is my plea for a dream job.
I really want it now...
I like photographs.
I like grainy, vivid, high definition, monochrome photographs that are splashed across newspapers to show the dramas of the world.
I like glossy, ten-by-eight fashion photos. All soft filters and luxurious colours draping across magazines.
I like surreal abstractions of fantasy worlds - of fish driving cars and twenty-foot dragonflies - constructed lovingly in photographic enlargers and appearing in a dish full of developer, waiting to be fixed and hung out to dry.
Man Ray was the way to go, and we all followed. Today Photoshop will create his images in seconds, with the same impact but without the heart and soul.
I like pixel heavy super-images, filling walls of galleries, skin pores standing out in twenty-foot masterpieces. Photo realism as never before.
But I am a traditionalist. I like the tug of 35mm film as you wind it on to the next frame, huddling in darkened cupboards struggling to find the top of a developing tank, sitting in the soothing glow of a safety light 100% absorbed in the physicality of processing film.
Which probably means I don’t want your job and would rather lock myself away in the peace and quiet of a darkroom.
When I left school I got a job in a textile mill. I saved my wages so I could buy a Zenith SLR camera, an enlarger, developing tank and processing trays. Using blackout material to cover the windows (donated by the mill I worked at) I then spent many hours taking over the bathroom and developing black and white photographs. This became an obsessive hobby for many years, and I loved watching the images slowly appear in the developer - almost like magic.
Time moves on, teaching took up much of my time, and today I have a digital camera, downloading the images into a computer - but nothing matches the excitement of being shut away in a darkroom, sitting under a red safety lamp and being totally absorbed in the creative process.
I like travelling. I like travelling Europe. I like travelling the world. I like travelling to challenging countries.
I really like Arizona cacti. I like their round, plump, spiny, succulent parts, their delicate flowers that turn into edible fruits is some cases giving us cactus jelly and bonbons. I like the dear little elegant cactus wren who builds her home in a cactus void. I like the fact that the Saguaro blooms after midnight and closes mid-afternoon.
I like Africa and Africans especially the strong African women. I am fascinated by the dusty, curry smelling unkempt streets; loud African music bellowing out from doorways, street parties and buxom women clad and swathed in intoxicatingly vivid fabrics. I like the colour, shape, smells and textures of Africa. I like the fresh fruit and veg markets and constant chatter and battering.
I like United Arab Emirates for its indescribable heat, gold sculptured sand dunes and dune buggies, camel trains and Bedouin camps. I like the tailors, beauty parlours and the outrageous fun of visiting the grog shop. I like the smell of a shisha bar, pungent coffee houses and real hummus.
I like my travels to Europe for the rich fabric of culture. I like the beaches salty air, seaweed, beach combing and the sound ofebbing and waning of these beaches of paradise. I like watching the glorious sunsets and magnificent sunrises; clifftop walks and the flora and fauna. I like the city sights as well as remote country escapes.
I like all these destinations for their culture, diversity, life, people, food and of course a good glass of wine or a delicious cocktail.
I like travel writing and travel photography much better than social work.
Is there an amazing and exotic destination your delightful magazine would like me to visit and review?
My passport is current and ready to go.
Elaine is a talented textile and mixed media artist and creative writer living in West Yorkshire and working from her beautiful studio set in the Yorkshire Dales. Elaine recently had a solo exhibition of her textile work at Artsmill Hebden Bridge depicting her recovery of domestic abuse through fabric and stitch. She currently lectures part time at the University of Huddersfield. Elaine is a member of the Hebden Bridge Writers Group and the National Association of Writers' Groups (NAWG) and attends the Wentworth Writing Retreat annually. Elaine is currently writing two memoirs. You can follow her on Instagram: elaine_hook_textile_artist Twitter: @hooks_n_threads Facebook: Elaine Hook Textile & Mixed Media Artist Website: www.elainehookeducationconsultancy.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gang - this is us doing the exercise...
I've loved putting this post together and, happily for me, there's more to come. Watch this space (or, even better, sign up for email updates). This blog is small but these words deserve to be read so please help by sharing with your friends.
It couldn't have come at a better or worse time!
I really was ready for a break and was so looking forward to meeting up with people who wanted to talk about reading, writing and, as it turns out, dragonflies, space exploration and football but then Liverpool FC went and got into the Champions League final and I had to travel back on Saturday night to watch the match before returning for breakfast at the retreat on Sunday.
That's enough said about the football but, on the plus side, I was forced to finally drive on the motorway and I did it four times in three days.
Anyone who knows me will appreciate what a big achievement that was. Whoop!
On Saturday, professional writer and all-round good-guy, Marvin Close, ran a short workshop designed to get our creative juices going. It's all very relaxed and some people headed to the library rather than the workshop, others attended to their own work whilst sitting in the workshop and the rest of us did Marvin's exercises (writing - not physical!) which were perfectly pitched to get us thinking, and in a good frame of mind to then work on our own material in the afternoon. Marvin was available after lunch for one-to-one sessions, providing advice and assistance with whatever writing-related issue we wanted to discuss with him. He is a great person to be around - always encouraging, enthusiastic and ready with good, experienced advice, I wish I could have him on speed-dial for whenever the doubts hit me.
After the walk I managed a couple of hours of writing before a quick dinner and a drive home.
Shame about the football.
When plotting a story, we are frequently advised not to rely too heavily on coincidence – the reader must not be cheated; he or she must be led, carefully yet often unwittingly, through a series of events which come together to form a plot. Said plot should, apparently, follow a generally accepted structure of crisis points, resolutions and thematic arcs. What we should not do is make our characters behave in an unbelievable way, stumble through coincidental events or allow something so outlandish to happen that the reader is alienated and throws down the book in disgust.
However... we have all heard stories (have we not?) of real-life events which would break these rules if incorporated into our fictitious plots. Clearly if the writing is of non-fiction then that is excellent news; it probably means that the subject matter we have chosen will make a rollicking read. Also, I am a firm believer that rules are made to be broken, in certain circumstances at least. I can think of many stories where ridiculously unbelievable things happen and, somehow, the writer manages to pull it off. Yet there are undoubtedly situations where using an event, or series of events, which occurred in real life in a fictitious piece just won’t work because the reader would be left saying that just wouldn’t happen. Whilst our response could justifiably be well, dear reader, it did! that just won’t cut it if it does not feel honest to the person you are trying to engage with.
I can recall a fair few training courses and writing workshops where, in group discussion, plot points have been shot down as being too unrealistic only for the writer to declare that it had in fact actually happened. It’s always interesting and it always makes me reflect, particularly as the past year has seen me writing and editing four non-fiction books about incredible, heroic, moving, dastardly and quite unbelievable events, a few of which would have been dismissed as absurd had they been incorporated into a work of fiction. By way of example, meet Henry Brown, a 19th century American slave who escaped to freedom – by post! After thirty three years of living his life in chains in Louisa County, Virginia, Henry claimed to have received a heavenly vision which told him to mail himself to a place where there were no slaves. Probably born of desperation, it is still completely bonkers and a truth which is, I think, stranger than much fiction (although I feel that I should point out that I am currently reading Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams).
The four volumes are packed with inspirational stories if you are looking for an idea for a piece of writing. Putting them together had my mind racing as I began to imagine how I would tell their stories or include them, disguised, within my own plot. Just make sure you don’t come up with something so crazy no one will believe you!!
Here’s hoping you had a great Christmas and that Santa brought you all of the books you asked for.
Happy New Year,
Thanks for coming back to my blog. How are you?
I’m great, thank you. It’s lovely to be back!
My last chat with you was in November 2015, I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. Back then you had self-published a number of books but had just signed a contract with Carina (now rebranded as HQ Digital) for two books. I know that you have lovely paperbacks out in the world now and I was wondering how that came about?
After self-publishing A Beginner’s Guide To Salad and Everything Changes But You (and free short story A Beginner’s Guide To Christmas), I wrote a festive book (The Mince Pie Mix-Up) and was planning to self-publish again. But I thought I’d submit it to Carina on the off chance they’d want to publish it. I didn’t expect anything but a rejection, but they loved it and I was offered a two-book deal. I’ve since published four ebooks with them, with two more on the way next year, and my latest, The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea, was released as a paperback too.
I see that ‘The Little Bed and Breakfast by the Sea’ has over 100 Amazon reviews (click here). That is amazing. You must be pleased?
I’m amazed! It’s been so exciting seeing the number of reviews rising – especially as most people have enjoyed the book!
And is ‘The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts’ a sequel?
Although the books have similar titles, they aren’t connected at all – they take place in different locations and follow completely separate sets of characters.
Yes, it’s the second book in the Beginner’s Guide series, following Ruth and her friends during the next stage of their lives. I wrote the first draft around the time I signed with HQ Digital, but it took a bit of a backseat as publisher deadlines kicked in. As with the first book in the series, I self-published A Beginner’s Guide To Saying I Do.
Now that you are signed up with a publisher, what level of involvement do you have with designing the cover? I know you used to like playing around with them when you were designing your own!
I’m not very involved at all, so the reveal is always exciting and I can’t wait to share them with everybody! I do like playing around with images and graphics, so I like having my toe in both camps as I get full control over my self-published designs.
What is your writing routine? Do you write every day?
I write Monday to Friday while my daughters are at school. If I’m nearing a deadline or I’m falling way behind schedule, I’ll write for a good chunk of Sundays too. In the school holidays, I’ll squeeze in bits of writing when I can and catch up in the evenings.
Do you have or are you seeking an agent?
I don’t have an agent at the moment, but it’s something I would definitely like to pursue again in the future!
So, after all this excitement, what’s next??
I’m currently in the planning stages of Book 9 while I wait for the edits of Book 8. Both books will be published by HQ Digital next year.
Thanks so much for coming, Jennifer. Maybe we can do this again in another couple of years? Who knows, there might be a movie to talk about by then!
That would be awesome – both chatting books again and movie talk!
Jennifer has a lovely website at jenniferjoycewrites.co.uk. Why not check it out?
Three women. Three weddings. But who will say I do – and who will say I don’t?
Ruth can’t quite believe she’s managed to snag The One but when he proposes, she can finally accept that she’s found her happily ever after. But when Ruth finds herself booking her dream church for just six weeks away, she starts to panic. You can’t plan a whole wedding at such short notice. Can you?
Trina has only just walked down the aisle, but she’s already starting to question whether they can make their marriage work. Will they survive the honeymoon period, or have they just made a very big – and very expensive – mistake?
Erin has somehow found herself agreeing to be a bridesmaid for the tackiest wedding known to man. With drunk hens, ridiculous outfits and a terrifying wedding planner, just what has Erin signed up for?
Available from Amazon (click on picture for link).
Hmm, tough decisions. As it stands I have spent three hours this morning on my laptop formatting non-fiction books but I think I will allow the garden to take me for half an hour soon.
Not that I am complaining. When I left work I didn't know how I was going to fill my days but, piece by piece, I've built up enough of a life that I could fill my sleeping hours and still not get everything done that I would like, and to the standard I would like. In a strange way, that pleases me. I need direction or I get confused.
Of course then there's all the marketing to do... There's no point spending all my free time holed-up inside on my own to put pretty and fun things out into the world but then not having the time or energy to tell anyone that they're there. So, watch this space, I'll be bending your ears soon...
In the meantime, there's also the small matter of the tiny office at the back of the garage which I have ear-marked for a workshop/writing room. I can write anywhere but my crafting bits and pieces are all over the house. They are getting underfoot and are at risk of damage. I really need somewhere safe and clean to store everything if I am going to start selling . (Note to any would-be burglars reading this - it is alarmed and will only have ribbons, paint and glue in it so don't go getting any ideas..!)
I think I might need some HELP!!
But it’s ok. The boys are great, so much fun and totally adorable. Sam is gradually settling in to a couple of days at nursery which will free up some time (Matthew continues to enjoy his time there). And I am developing a new hobby... Crafting! Whilst I might not get reliable blocks of time during which I can write, I can sneak some shorter bursts here and there. Just before Christmas I attended a craft fair and marvelled at the lovely things people were making and selling. It moved quickly from there. Never one to hang around I joined Pinterest and discovered something amazing called ‘mixed media’. As the name suggests, this involves using many different techniques and materials to produce art. Many of the pieces I have seen have a luscious steampunky vibe to them. So, armed with some birthday money (and as it turns out, much of the grocery money as well) I have been on a spree – Hobbycraft, Amazon, Ebay, Wilko, charity shops – nowhere is safe. I’ve got inks, pastes, stamps, papers, stencils, wooden butterflies, mache books, lace, buttons and I just can’t stop.
I’ve said it before (in relation to my writing), YouTube is an excellent resource. And it turns out that you can watch ‘how to’ videos in relation to pretty much any type of crafting material or technique. I’ve made bookmarks, magnets, coasters, signs. I’ve decorated boxes, picture frames, gift tags – all over the last month or so.
Undoubtedly some of the time I could have spent writing and I’ve found that crafting has occupied my thoughts (coming up with designs together with solutions to technical issues like heatproofing coasters) when I would usually have been thinking about plotting. But I have fallen totally in love with it and am thinking about road-testing some of my pieces with a view to putting them up for sale later in the year. It won’t make me rich but I might make back some of the money I have spent on materials. In the meantime it has given me a greatly-needed creative release when I was struggling to find the time and the emotional energy required to write. Plus I think the pieces I have produced so far compliment my book which has a richly dark flavour. I can see a situation where I sell both books and crafts via my website. That’s the dream, anyway.
And today, well today I have had a writing day (note – for the purposes of this paragraph please pretend that it is still Saturday evening!). I am currently on my way back from a ‘Space to Write’ day run by the ever lovely Susan Elliot Wright and Russell Thomas (www.susanelliotwright.co.uk). It got me away from chores and has allowed me to assess where I am. Last week, on holiday with the troupe, I scribbled down a plan. Today I had time to think about it and began to move some of the elements forward. My aim (as Susan says, it helps to say it out loud and publicly if possible!) is to have self-published a second book of shorts by Christmas. It won’t be done in time for Christmas sales but I would like it done by the end of the year. As I am writing this I am thinking that January might not be a great time for a book launch so I might revisit the precise timing but I want it written and formatted by then. It will be a collection of fantasy short stories. Over the past 18 months I have written only two but after today I am a good way through a third. I probably need 8 or 9 in total, depending upon length. So a long way to go, but a plan at least. When I need a break from this project I have a couple of other books and scripts on the backburner greatly in need of attention and I’m working on a non-fiction project with a friend which will hopefully go live soon. It's never the ideas that are the problem... Time and execution - a different matter.
When the collection of shorts is out in the world I will force myself to move on. I love writing short stories but readers, it seems, are not in love with reading them.
Meanwhile 'Into Dust' remains 99p on Kindle - HERE.
That’s my update. I’d love to hear yours.
I've also been doing a reasonable amount of reading, although I have not been posting regular reviews. Since coming back from the NAWG conference at the beginning of September laden with books, I have a large 'to be read' pile and I will be spending a fair amount of time between now and Christmas reading and reviewing them. The NAWG conference at Warwick was as inspiring as ever - I returned with loads of ideas, so much motivation and with many new friends. I really do recommend the weekend as a wonderful place to attend workshops and meet other writers. It is so friendly and all the tutors are extremely approachable as a rule. For those unfamiliar with the organisation, it is the National Association of Writers Groups and they take individual members too (like me - it costs around £20 a year). The website is HERE and they run loads of competitions, some for non-members as well as members. Do check it out. The association also runs a retreat in May which I have never attended but am hoping to get to next year.
In the meantime here are some of the books I have read recently:
This blog post is just for fun! I asked six other writers to name a song which got them in the creative mood and to tell me why. These are their responses...
A big 'thank-you' to everyone who responded.
Number 1 - B.M Keeling (Me).
I'll start this off with a song that I discovered at the end of a movie. It's simple but raw and motivational and, if played loudly, always gets me wanting to create something new. I hope you like it.
My collection of supernatural short stories is available via Amazon ('Into Dust And Other Strange Tales'). I am currently working on a collection of fantasy shorts and a novel for children.
Number 2 - Philippa Ronan
I've chosen this song by Eminem as it makes me want to get on with whatever I am working on. I could have also picked Love is a Losing Game or Tears Dry on Their Own by Amy Winehouse.
I'm currently writing a novel about the death of an artist set on a fictitious Scottish island.
Number 3 - Karen Wynn
Although I prefer quiet when scribbling, I can't deny the enormous pull I feel towards music, particularly Springsteen's, and the wonderful imagery he conjures up with all of his songs. In the deeply intimate "Brilliant Disguise" our own identity is placed under scrutiny - a story of a man struggling with the weight of his own doubts alongside a crumbling relationship.
As my current story is centred around love, I have turned to his relationships album, "The Tunnel of Love" for inspiration. It's almost thirty years old now, yet still so fresh. So many aspects of love can be found in his pared down, poetic tales of new love, broken relationships or yearning for love lost.
Number 4 - Marvin Close
This track is two minutes of beautiful noise guaranteed to wake up the writerly mind!
My latest project, working with Hope Powell on 'Hope: My Life in Football', is now available from Bloomsbury.
Number 5 - Lorraine Dixon
I listen to Enigma when I'm writing. The album is an hour long so enables me to write for an hour solid before I have a break or change what I'm doing.
I am currently working on a novel set in Italy. I think it's really important to visit the places you are writing about because it's not just the sights but also the sounds, smells and the atmosphere that feed into the characters and the storyline. Maybe my next novel will be set on a ranch in the wild west or a chateau in the south of France.
Number 6 - Marian Dillon
My three great loves are reading, writing and music but I don't always listen to music when writing. Too distracting! I've written two novels and am now on my third. Songs feature in them all and are on a playlist on my iPod. It was hard to choose one track but I chose this one by the Arctic Monkeys as it has it all for me: a quirky
way of expressing love for someone with a great slow beat and lots of dry Sheffield wit.
Number 7 - Emma Finlayson-Palmer
My selection ties in with my MG magical adventure story, 'A Witch in Time', both in its lyrics and fast paced music which keeps me motivated to write.
I nearly chose 'Cheer Up London' by Slaves which inspired me to start my current WIP ('Love Bites', a story about a 16 year old who has to rescue her ex, battle her way home to save her family and defeat the head vampire). I love the fast paced catchy music.
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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