The Darker side of Sunshine

Meeting Wednesday 30th October 2019
The theme was ‘Sunshine’ but as usual the Writing Group managed to turn this pleasant image into a horror genre.
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Only Val, Precia, Moya and Wanda from Writers were present. Debbie, accompanied by an adorable Eden, made a brief appearance. A potential new member, Jenny, arrived to read from her book and wanting feedback as to whether it was worth pursuing. She was reassured that any benefit from writing, first and foremost, goes to the writer. Fortunately she sat next to Precia who became her mentor and helper. Val and Wanda looked on in admiration as Precia, encouraged and advised. The story was about a dysfunctional family, all of whom had physical demons attached to them. Precia constructed a family tree and we look forward to Jenny’s return with more details about the family’s machinations. Val read a poem about ‘Sunshine’. The scene is set on a sea shore and at first reading it is idyllic with the sun, as the seducer, enticing the person into the cold waves. On further examination however the poem becomes menacing with an underlying feel of abuse and control. Moya then read her story entitled, ‘The sunshine of her smile’. It was written from the point of view of a stalker who does not realise what he is doing is causing distress and fear. The story was excellent and if we have an anthology needs to be included.
We had a discussion about the workshop next week. It was decided that a railway station (Tamworth?) was a good place for the action to take place. We need to image a character who has a reason for being at the station. Bring our ideas to the meeting and we will endeavour to construct a story based upon the different characters. School holidays are over, it’s getting colder, so now is the time for WRITING.

Autumnal Verse

Today’s theme was Autumnal so there’s plenty of inspiration out there for us. We heard first from Wanda with a captivating poem that revolved around a family tree. The family members each form leaves from which our traits derive, passed through the tree. This stimulated discussion about lost opportunities. When those leaves have fallen it’s often too late to say what could have been said. Beautifully written with thought-provoking language.

I followed with another poem in which the subject is an age old tree that’s watched the times change, suffering as a result. The landscape remains the same but those who inhabit the park where the tree has stood for over 100 years have darker purpose than the children who played there before them. I took the traditional verse, ‘Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree’, to begin each line. We are hoping to publish some examples of our work so this and other pieces will be posted soon.

Moya read a poem which she had written several years ago but which still has a poignancy in today’s climate. Entitled, An End to Winter it begins with how the earth prepares to sleep but as our seasons overlap we can often see flowers blooming in December. The conclusion heeds the warning that we may one day regret the end of winter. Another well written, interesting piece that you’ll hopefully be able to read soon on this site.

Next week we’re shuffling the menu so that Sunshine will be the topic of the day and the workshop will be the following week 6th November. Don’t forget you can join us on 7th November for the writers networking event at the Castle Hotel, Tamworth. Follow the link for details.

See you there!

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Comfort Free Zone

Today was deadline day for our in-house poetry competition and this year we’ve had to up our game. The entries are being judged by long-time Tamworth Writers member, Maureen Edden and she is both an authority on and expert writer of poetry. Eight poems were handed in and a few of us had moved away from our usual writing style; I can’t reveal too much because we don’t want to alert Maureen as we submit anonymously. However, it was interesting to hear how we’d experimented.

We were then treated to a couple more pieces of writing. Precia read another excerpt from her family memoir that involved a holiday journey that didn’t go to plan. It had break-downs and cock-ups and plenty of laughs – helped along by a trip to a bar. If Murphy’s Law hadn’t been written, tips could’ve been taken from Precia’s Dad. Proof that when things go wrong, there’s always a funny side – and an excellent story to tell.

Following the impromptu ‘Flying Doughnut’ stories a few weeks ago, Moya revealed that she had the completed tale to read to us. It tells of an unhappy custard doughnut who, left on the shelf was granted a wish by the Fairy Godbaker. We are taken on the doughnut’s adventure as his wish for wings is granted and he takes to the skies. Sadly, royal icing doesn’t make the most reliable wings and before long the crestfallen cake is plummeting towards and unfortunate end.

Inspired by Moya’s wonderful story, Wanda came up with the idea of putting together an anthology of children’s stories in future. She suggested we each write a short piece and they could be combined to produce a book in time for the writing event we are attending in 2020 in Birmingham. That’ll take a few of us out of our comfort zones again but its always good to try a new genre.

Another of Wanda’s propositions was to come up with a central location to write a story around, with each of us taking a character to develop their individual narrative. This was met with great enthusiasm and we are planning a workshop soon to expand and begin this exercise.

Next weeks theme is Autumnal, I reckon there’s a fair bit of inspiration out there for us. If you want to get involved, find us on the first floor of Tamworth Library at 1-4pm every Wednesday.

comfort zone

Tamworth Writers Networking Event – October ’19

We met for the second of our evening networking events, held on the first Thursday of the month at the Castle Hotel, Tamworth. Joining the Tamworth Writers was our friend, Sue Flint from the Readers & Writers Group, Sue Ulliot a published author also from Tamworth and Phil Stott a writer from Derbyshire.

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The format for these meet-ups is loose, allowing for discussion of all things writerly, the sharing of work and a chance to exchange knowledge and ask advice. During our introductions, we swapped social media contacts and so the subject of the best way to market our work was explored. Twitter came out top and it was agreed that those not taking full advantage of the platform would benefit from a workshop. Tamworth Writers plan to host a session in the next few weeks at Tamworth Library. Phil also brought up the additional benefits of prompts and hashtags designed for writers on social media like the #100wordchallenge which is useful to both improve writing technique and provide a purpose to write.

Another topic was blogging, a few of us are keen bloggers and we compared the merits of Blogspot V WordPress. It was a useful debate as there are options available whereby blogs can be switched in their entirety from one platform to another which proved useful knowledge for writers present who are considering the changeover.

When the time came to share some work, Wanda from TW asked whether people wanted feedback. She suggested the idea of future work being printed up in order for those listening to also read through as it can be easier to fully take in when you listen and look at the words on a page. This met with mixed reaction and as Sue, R&W pointed out could be problematic for anyone with a condition such as Dyslexia. However, it’s a possibility to think on for future meetings.

As our meeting fell on National Poetry Day, Thursday 3rd October I had come prepared with a poem of my own. It was the first I’d written after joining TW three years ago and probably since I left school nearly 35 years ago! Most surprisingly it won the TW poetry competition that year but I wanted to give it a second look as it was written entirely off the cuff and didn’t have any particular format. The feedback given was extremely useful and I’ll definitely be looking to improve my rookie fluke winner.

Phil read to us next, a piece he’d written using the prompt Missing. Using the location of Wollaton Hall, Nottingham we were given a snapshot from the family tree of the Willoughbys who once owned and lived in the stately home. We heard how Percival Willoughby inherited the building from Sir Francis Willoughby along with its huge debts. He became owner of the prominent country house and its considerable land, all that was missing was the money. During the Second World War, the landmark building was used as a base for US troops including the 82nd Airborne. When they returned after being parachuted into war torn Europe in 1944 many of the Airmen were missing.  Thought provoking writing so well delivered it was remarked that this could be a monologue read on stage.

We then heard an except from Vicky Ulliot’s true life novel Our Bulldog Spirit Vicky read the chapter Bedworth’s Golden Boy that told of local aspiring boxer Les’ match against US fighter Bobby Dawson that was held in the town. As she was unable to draw on any first hand accounts of the fight itself, Vicky set the scene, explaining how Les advised his brother Roy not to bet on him winning. The event itself took place at Bedworth football ground where over 5,000 people attended to see the local lad triumph over his world class opponent. Vicky described the aftermath of the fight where a battered and bruised Les is taken to hospital by his brother, sore but extremely happy. Follow the link to find Vicky’s book for sale on Amazon to read more of this heartwarming story.

Tamworth Writers member, Sue then treated us to the first chapter of her memoir Bobby Dog. Told from the animals perspective we find ourselves seeing life through Bobby’s eyes when it begins with his birth on a farm. His world is shattered as he watches his brothers and sisters taken away one by one until the day he too is removed from his mother. Thankfully Bobby is rescued by Sue herself and she goes on to explain how the book threads its way through Bobby’s life taking in the family’s ups and downs along the way.  It was agreed that the writing process of this was a cathartic experience, it’s a touching account and we look forward to hearing more.

Finally, we had another first chapter, this time from Elaine who is currently still working on her rom-com novel. The book centres around the friendship of two women and begins on a reluctant night out for the protagonist whose best friend Ginny persuades her she needs to drink, dance and pull. Both nurses, the women get ready despite the narrators PMS ‘poor me syndrome’ and hit the town with their mate Matty. Uplifting and instantly engaging, we enter the lives of these ‘besties’. Elaine was encouraged to write more and complete her novel, it’s one we’d all like to see on the shelves.

Thank you everyone who came to the meeting and hope you’ll be able to return for the next event on Thursday 7th November 7-9pm. Don’t forget to bring some work to share, we’ve heard some wonderful writing already, lots more to come I’m sure!

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Just Desserts

A few of us braved the elements and managed to get through the floods to the library this week; considering we’re as far from coastal waters as it’s possible to get (79.8 miles to be exact to Wallasey beach), Tamworth resembles an island right now!

Fearless Tamworth Writer, Caroline ventured out to the actual factual seaside last weekend to attend the Morcambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival In her role of The Divine Write book blogger extraordinaire, she met up with some top-class authors and best of all was featured on the Partners in Crime podcast with Robert Dawes & Adam Croft!

We began chatting about books we are currently reading and I heaped praise on the best selling memoir by former doctor (now writer and comedian), Adam Kay – This is Going to Hurt, The Secret Diary of a Junior Doctor. If you haven’t yet read it, do so as soon as possible, you will laugh so much you may cry! Without ruining the best bits; of which there’s an endless supply; there are recurring admissions of patients with things stuck in places they really shouldn’t put them. Apologies to anyone browsing the shelves that afternoon for the raucous laughter coming from the first floor, it was literary discussion, honest.

On to the theme of the day, Impossible and Vic read a poem inspired by this prompt that told of the road to recovery that can at times seem an impossible journey to take.

Another poem came from Sue who penned a thought provoking piece where love made all things possible even when they seemed difficult to achieve. It was commented that this had an air of Give Peace a Chance, profound words beautifully written.

Moya gave us a short story about a cat in pursuit of his favourite fish dish, a seemingly impossible task that almost leaves him out in the cold. A humorous tale cleverly told from the animals perspective.

On to some impromptu writing for which the prompt came via the memory of someone hurling a cake from the first floor balcony of the library and hitting a librarian straight in the chops – I’m not making it up! We did, however, make up some prose using the title. ‘The Flying Donut’.

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My own offering was a poem that followed the course of a doughnut that’s been thrown at someone but winds its way into trouble with the law. Caroline plunged in with a pun-laden piece about a flying cake containing some excellent one-liners. She was followed by Sue who set her scene in a circus big top with the focus on a trapeze artist who falls suddenly from her perch after being struck on the head. Closer inspection shows the culprit to be a doughnut containing a rock, I kid you not! Vic began a poem describing a doughnuts journey across the sky and then came Moya with a tale set in a cake shop. The doughnut has been left on the shelf when, while pondering its fate gets a visit from a beautiful winged fairy cake. When the ‘fairy God-baker’ grants the doughnut a wish the reply (of course) is to be able to fly. This is a story that has to go on!

If you’d like to join us next week the theme is Graveyard, we can be found on the first floor of Tamworth library, follow the laughter! Reminder; poetry competition, entries need to be in the week after next, 16th October.

Straight & Marrow

Lots to discuss today and we were joined by a newbie and a Mommy. Marilia brought her mother along who was visiting from Brazil so it was good to Welcome Sophia back. The other guest was Ed, a young man who enjoys writing in the cosy crime genre.

Caroline brought up the question of competitions, do we want to continue running in house comps or should we, as has been previously suggested, stop them altogether. Those of us present were unanimous in keeping them going with conditions; a judge should be decided before entries taken, at least six entries have to be made and funds have to be available for the winners. The possibility of dropping to just two; short story and poetry was put forward but as non-fiction is my favourite, I dug my heels in.  If entries are low, then the competition won’t run anyway.

Introductions were made to Ed at this point and he shared his latest idea for a book, asking for our input in the following; interesting ways to kill a person using garden shears – I kid you not. Caroline’s suggestion of lunging aggressively with the blades open had a flaw, it’s not exactly ‘cosy crime’. Neither is Ed’s own idea of dropping the shears onto someone’s head from a height. Sue preferred poisoning the blades whilst I favoured using them to sever a cable and electrocuting the victim. All of the aforementioned amounted to marrowcide according to Moya! Other marrow jokes were available much to Caroline’s amusement, especially when delivered in a mock German accent (you had to be there).

Swiftly moving on, we then discussed the weekend’s literary event put on by Where the Rivers Meet together with Tamworth Literary festival. Only Caroline had attended this on Saturday in the Castle Grounds, joining other local writers including Mal Dewhurst and Anthony Poulton-Smith with the organiser Darren Cannan. The poets and storytellers made their way through the Castle Grounds to Ladybridge, stopping en route to read their work before finishing at The Moat House. There was another opportunity for readings and some interesting local history. Caroline took plenty of notes and her blog will soon be available to read here and on her WordPress site The Divine Write.

On then to today’s subject, Journal. I read first, a piece detailing my diaries which began aged six, continuing throughout my life to the present day. I’ve kept almost all of them, a few gaps can be found in my teenage years where the books are probably still hidden under floorboards at my Moms. The rest cover, marriage, raising kids, starting work, setting up a business and everything that life has thrown at me. I brought along my earliest diary, a school news book from 1973 from which I read a couple of excerpts. Ah those halcyon days where I could fill a page with tales of rolling around on the grass (not my teenage diaries honest!)

Vic read next, a story that centred on friendships of the unrequited kind. A long overdue catch up leaves an alliance in tatters when one discovers unkind diary entries about the other in a journal left unattended. The spiteful revelations she reads lead our protagonist to storm out, ending the bond they’ve held for so long. She then bumps into another acquaintance who, seeing the woman’s distress hugs her and offers comfort, taking her for a coffee. As one tie is severed, another is made and while this new relationship builds the old one is deleted, unfollowed and ended for good.

Finally, we had a heart-rending tale from Sue about how significant diaries can be. In his 79th year, John reflects on the special relationship he had with his Grandad and how, when Althzeimers took hold, John offered comfort by reading to his Grandad from the diaries he’d kept. When John noticed the telltale symptoms of this cruel disease taking hold of his own life, he realises that just as he himself did, his own children are aware of the illness. History repeats as his children relate the diaries of his Grandfather to their Dad. The journalling is passed on from father to son and so on and the entries offer just as much comfort year in and year out. Beautifully written and told by Sue who never ceases to amaze in the way she can perfectly craft a story anywhere in no time at all – this tale was written while waiting for Writers to begin today.

We were all disappointed that Moya hadn’t taken on today’s subject as one of her brilliant characters would have been more than a match for Adrian Mole!

That’s all from me for today. Next Wednesday we have Andrew Sparkes joining us so make sure that date is in your diary. Oh, and don’t forget to add our next evening meet up on Thursday October 5th at 7.30pm in the Castle Hotel, Tamworth – bring some writing to share, all welcome.

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Sleep Tight…

The apologies came in thick and fast, we had members away visiting Oxford and Prague, not sure which part of the globe Val is currently but we’re sure we spied her in Tammuf last week. Other writers were unable to make it today but Caroline is back from her school holiday imprisonment and we also had Sean, Sue and Anna with us.

Last weeks evening meeting was discussed, it was a positive start with plans made for the format of future meetups. The October date is now being advertised on Eventbrite and the first ticket has been claimed by our friend from Readers and Writers, Sue Flint. It was agreed that Tamworth Writers would act as hosts, inviting local writers to share, promote and if needed, develop their work. A creative hub for writers of all genre’s to meet and network.

Another event takes place this weekend Where the Rivers Meet is a fringe event for Tamworth Litfest set up by Darran Cannan and hosted by Tamworth Litfest.  The event takes the form of Poetry in the Park. Poets and storytellers from the Midlands will unite near to the rivers Tame and Anker to celebrate the magic of rivers and the history of Tamworth. The event will include a short walk stopping off at a number of key locations adjacent to the rivers. It takes place on Saturday 14th September 11-3pm around the Castle Grounds.

Caroline also told us about an event at Kingsbury Water Park, Mental Health Mates which meets every two weeks to walk and talk around the park. Next meet up this Sunday 15th at 10.30am

I have updated the WordPress site by adding 20 pages of competitions running between now and (I think) June 2020. To gain access head to the Member Only page and put in the password.

Today’s subject was Nightmare and Moya got us started with a hilarious account of a fictional nightmare. We were taken from the dread of leaving the house knickerless through to being wound tightly by a monster spiders thread. This horrendous scenario ended with a frightening account that saw a blundering TV personality becoming our Prime Minister, oh hang on…!

My autobiographical piece paid homage to the thankless tasks facing our NHS staff and the ever increasing burdens placed upon them. Unfortunately, this nightmare has no end in sight currently.

Sean read from his current work, Second City Storm. The excerpt deals with the immediate aftermath of the Birmingham pub bombings. A gripping account that takes the reader back in time to memories that nightmares are made of. Sean is on the lookout for first hand accounts from this time to help with the novel. Sue’s brother-in-law, sadly no longer with us, was a paramedic whose experience that night in 1974 had a devastating effect on his life. One suggestion was to listen to the documentary marking the 40th year of the bombings, made by Radio WM.

Sue had prepared a poem for us that spoke of the storms of life. Things that go wrong and turn our lives upside down. Thankfully the nightmare scenarios had a positive end, lovely piece of poetry.

I’ve chosen an image, especially for Caroline this week who, although didn’t have a piece of written work, did share her personal nightmare of house spiders. Wicked I know!

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It was time for me to up and leave at this stage, hope I got the gist of the meeting and if you fancy coming along, we are at Tamworth Library every Wednesday between 1-4pm.

Tara a bit.

Back to Write

The holiday season is drawing to a close, kids are back to school and Tamworth Writers are making their way back to the weekly meetings in Tamworth Library. Eight of us made it today where exciting news was delivered; the fiction competition results were in!

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In first place was Debbie, second place went to Vic and in third came Sean. Well Done Everyone! Precia shared out the prize money but with only five entries this time the question was raised as to whether the competitions should carry on. Debbie suggested bringing in copies of the monthly competition round up from Writing Magazine; although entry fees are applicable, it may give us some extra inspiration. This debate is to be continued…

In a bid to get work published, Debbie had sent some articles to a new magazine, Happiful. Their reply was encouraging but they suggested future content have a stronger mental health angle. It definitely pays to read the magazine you contribute to thoroughly but also to have an affinity with the subjects they are closely linked to.

This Thursday evening Tamworth Writers will be meeting in the Castle Hotel, Holloway, Tamworth between 7-9pm. The Writers have previously held evening meetings but they weren’t well supported. Due to queries and requests about the possibility of later meetings, we have booked to attend the Castle Hotel on the first Thursday of the month for the next three months. If you want to join us or know someone who may be interested, please put the word out and come along.

With Wanda aka Tenacious Brat, unable to join us for a second week, the rap workshop has been put on hold. There will be no spitting bars till the Brat’s back!

Instead, we continued with the theme of the day which was Witness. First up with a poem was Vic. It was a personal piece which we all agreed was both insightful and powerful, Vic just keeps these excellent poems coming!

My contribution was a real-life experience of witnessing a vicious attack which reporting on led to me being in witness protection. Despite hard evidence, the victim was badly let down in court and the offenders got off lightly. Writing this down made it seem almost fictional, it certainly was hard to believe what happened.

Moya hadn’t lived through a court case but read a convincing tale of how she imagined proceedings may go. The protagonist in this instance was obviously not going to help solve the crime in question. We love the humour in Moya’s writing and this was spot on.

It was time for me to head off at this stage but I’ll be back to join the writers this evening (Thursday 5th) for our first evening meeting. See you there!

 

 

 

 

Wandafull!

As the summer hols reach their conclusion, numbers are building again at our weekly meetings, six arrived ready to write today. We were only three last week, partly due to the downpours, I had to hop, skip and jump the torrents flowing under the arches. Precia arrived so sodden she hung her socks over the tea trolley to dry and Wanda voiced the possibility of airing her jeans over the urn!

We can now confirm that the date for the first Writers evening meeting will be Thursday 5th September. The Castle Hotel has been booked and the meeting will run between 7-9pm. More details will follow but this will be a trial run until Christmas. Thanks to Wanda for doing the leg work, finding a venue and keeping us up to date.

Wanda also brought us news last week of the event planned by New Street Authors to coincide with the Commonwealth Games coming to Birmingham in 2022. The description given by NSA is;

“This is a multi-author event scheduled for Saturday 16 July 2022 to coincide with Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth games. Definitely, something for us all to celebrate. Readers can purchase tickets in due course in order to meet the attending authors in Birmingham’s prestigious Council House, including the opportunity to purchase signed books. Until then readers can interact with authors in this FB group.”

Wanda has put a deposit on a table for Tamworth Writers, now all we have to do is fill it – get those books published!

On the subject of New Street Authors, Wanda also reminded us that we have a speaker very soon, member of NSA, Andrew Sparkes. His visit will be on 25th September and he will be sharing his expertise in both writing and publishing. It is Andrew’s business APS Publications that have published Wanda’s recent release The Hungry Dragon

Sean made a suggestion that we set up a Whatsapp group for Writers, it makes sense; especially for those of us not always logged into Facebook. Hopefully, that will be set up shortly in order that we can keep in touch more easily.

Good news from Precia, she was able to get through to Cath on the phone this week and she sounded well which is good to know as we’re missing her.

Today’s subject was Temperance. I made an attempt at putting in writing my experience of falling (heavily) off the wagon after a sustained period of sobriety due to illness. Unfortunately, this landed me in the dog’s basket and the hangover that followed was enough to ensure a drop of the pure never reached my lips for at least 3 years!

No one else had written on this subject but Sean shared a short story with us about a man searching for answers. When he found them it was not what he was expecting. Critique and discussion followed about ways the conclusion could be made less obvious, drawing readers through to a final gripping revelation. Sean’s dialogue is compelling so it will be good to hear this tale again with it’s reworked plot twist.

Unfortunately, I had to flit after this so missed another of Moya’s fabulous poems. Maybe the blog should be a tale of two halves with the baton (or pen) being picked up by another member when I leave? Wanda? 😉

As I was leaving Wanda reminded us that next week’s meeting is a workshop and she then suggested the focus be rapping. Yes, you heard right! This Wednesday coming, the first floor of Tamworth Library will be the crib for Tamworth Rappers. So if you wanna getty with my home boys and girls we’ll be there from 1-4pm layin’ some dope rhymes and beats.

Peace Out – Shady Funk D

mike

 

 

 

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