Sunday, 25 September 2011

It's not about the money

I recently received a free 'Moleskine' notebook after getting a letter published in Writers Forum magazine. It's amazing how excited I was to get that through the post, as it was still a reward for getting something out there and published.

Writers Forum do not pay for letters to be published but this is such an incentive to put pen to paper and a great start to see your name in print in a major writing magazine.

Strangely enough on the same day I received an email from my local newspaper to say they are interested in a pitch I sent them for an article, they too can not pay me but somehow, it doesn't matter on this occasion, I feel that I would happy to 'donate' my work if they are willing to publish it.

It's a great experience for me as I have never had anything published in a newspaper and the original article was written with a magazine in mind so it takes on a different style. I am now trying to re-write the article in a more factual 'Newspaper' style. I never noticed that until I started my journalism course. I am guilty of being too descriptive and almost flowery sometimes, especially if I am writing about a subject that I am really passionate about. I tend to ramble on with my magical thoughts and descriptions forgetting that not everyone wants to read that sort of thing.

It is a great discipline to change your style, I am going to give it a go and fingers crossed, I may have my first newspaper article published in the next few months.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Sci-fi Chickens or a Horsey Horror?

I attended another great workshop today which was part of our usual Wrekin Writers meeting which was run by Julie Phillips ( on different types of Genres. It was a great way of looking at the separate things that make up a particular genre and the difference between them.

We got into groups and looked at several different genres such as Literary, Romance, Western, Horror, Sci-fi, and Crime Thriller and attempted to write down a short paragraph ( or some did even longer) in that style.

It was fascinating, especially when we then had to swap the genre with what we had already written and change it into the next genre. Our group had Literary and then had to change it to Crime Thriller, not easy but it was fascinating to work with different styles and learn about different genres.

I found it useful and certainly want to explore different genres with my writing, who knows, one day I might find the right one!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Inspired landscapes - and the people of it

I have just been on a short break to New Quay in Wales, and returned home feeling like I am bursting with inspiration to write. It always seems to be places that inspire me to think up new ideas and this brief visit to one of the most beautiful and natural areas did the trick for me.

Above is the Black Lion - one of the favourite places that the famous writer - Dylan Thomas would frequent.

It soon became my favourite watering hole too, with stunning views across the bay, a peaceful place to sit and enjoy a drink and interesting features showing Thomas's connection with the area.

The Dolau Inn was equally inspiring and inside had many photographs of the writer. It was amazing to find that in the middle of the week it was so sleepy and quiet. I loved watching people, mostly locals come and go as they walked up the road past the Inn with the sound of the sea behind them.

The whole area of New Quay is dotted with connections of the Writer. This sign was right outside a white bungalow named Majoda. It's part of the trail which passes through many of the areas that Dylan lived and wrote. It may not be the original 'Majoda' but it is the site where Dylan was thought to have written part of the play 'Under Milk Wood' which was set around the area of New Quay.

Extract from 'Under Milk Wood'

It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.

Shocking photograph, I just couln't get the focus but it was so atmospheric staring out of the window from the Hotel Penwig where we were stopping. This view mesmerized me and I couldn't stop thinking of this particular part of Under Milk Wood.

But in the morning, this was my view. I watched the sunrise over the bay, walked on the beach in the rain and came back to the Hotel Penwig to sit at my temporary writing desk.

It was one of those places and one of those times to put pen to paper and write something!

So I did! I scribbled ideas while I stared out of the window to that view.

I am now back home and working on two short stories, three articles, and scribbling ideas for the future, still being inspired by the landscape and the people of it.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9 +11 = 20 Acorns

So many people all over the world are thinking about what happened ten years ago today when so many innocent and brave people died on 9/11.

It's awful not being able to do or say anything that makes any difference to the survivors of that day and those left remembering their loved ones. All most people can do is to say they care and remember with the rest of the world, the ones that died.

I went into the woods today and gathered 20 acorns. I thought I could plant them in memory of those who lost their lives in 9/11.

When they are ready to plant I shall nurture them and eventually re-plant them in some special places to mark the fact that I do care. They may not all survive but even if a few make it, I think it will be worth the effort.

That, unfortunately, is all I can do.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Mike Smith's short story workshop

I attended a wonderful workshop recently run by Mike Smith who writes as Brindley Hallam Dennis -

The wonderful surprise was that I was joined by a former member and Chairperson of Wrekin Writers and who is also the lady who inspired me to join the group and stay for over ten years - Sue Horder Mason. (

What an inspiring day! Not only the most lovely company but a stunning venue with beautiful scenery made up of of acres of pasture and hills beyond. Horses grazed, galloped and grabbed at the apple tree growing at the bottom of the garden. A gorgeous setting that was clearly on view like a wide screen TV as we sat and enjoyed great conversation and informative discussion.

We started by looking at the beginning of a story and how characters arrive in a situation that makes the reader want to know what happens next. Some of the examples were amazing and left no doubt as to where that character was in a particular place and time, which is so important in any story, whether its' a short story or a novel.

Next we went on to talk about location. Some writers may have the character or situation in their mind first, others like myself, may have a particular place where they want a story to happen. It was fascinating as we scribbled down ideas for places - I immediately put them with a person and from that began to build a story.

We also went on to look at individual style. It may be the tone and language a writer uses throughout a story or just the way they use grammar to get across what they want the reader to experience.

What was so wonderful about this workshop was how it was delivered. As we were a small group, we were able to have a real discussion around the table on every aspect of what makes a good story. The excercises we did gave me ideas that I would never of thought about if I had not been there and taken part. Now I want to progress those ideas and turn them into stories.

Brindley Hallam Dennis

aka Mike Smith

A truly inspirational writer and a wonderful host!