Oh What a Circus!

The meeting didn’t start well as there was no tea trolley, no Sue, Wanda had forgotten to bring her writing folder and Debbie announced that she would not be writing up the blog. Once the tea trolley arrived, however, the atmosphere in the library calmed down. Debbie had used her technical expertise to advertise the Thursday Evening Writing Group and informed us that Dr Sara Read had obtained a ticket to attend this meeting. Precia started the meeting by explaining practical ways of publishing our books on Amazon. We need to google Amazon Affiliate; sign up and get our individual link. It would be useful to most of us if Precia put the step by step instructions on this site so that we could follow them. We were also informed that when an ebook is read on Amazon the writer receives half a cent for every page read. Also that an author is paid 8p for every book that is borrowed from the library. The theme for the day was ‘Circus’ and Caroline put forward her idea of a man sewing parts to repair the decaying bodies of previous circus performers. Far from being horrified the members of the group added their own suggestions. It is hoped that Caroline will write out this story as we all enjoyed the concept of it. Ana read out her story of visits to the circus in the past. There were animals in her account and it was noted that animals are no longer included in circuses in this country. Ana told of the skill of the animal trainers and how they had to develop a rapour with the animals they trained. This lead to an animated discussion upon whether it was right to restrict an animal’s instincts for the benefit/profit of humans. For some strange reason the discussion wandered to consider whether children should have their natural instincts curbed to fit in with socially acceptable behaviour. Fortunately Justin’s poem brought us back to the topic of the day. The poem concerned the relationship between a clown and a high wire act but, as with much of Justin’s work, it unfolded on many levels. I believe it would be helpful if this poem was reproduced on this page so that we could have a better chance to appreciate the intricacies of the poem. The last piece of work came from Vic who added a further section to her story about a lap dancer. The central character is entirely believable and the storyline is gripping. This story is being written alongside Vic’s dissertation – not on the same subject!
It was decided to purchase some chocolates to give to the library staff as a ‘thank you’ for letting us use the library. It is certainly a warmer venue and has led to many animated discussions. The theme next week is ‘Retrospective’. Time to start writing.
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Topless Dancers & Soggy Bottoms

Ok do I have your attention? 😉

Another (almost) full table of writers today. The general chit chat as we gather often throws up ideas for stories and today’s was no exception. Caroline could soon be penning a novel based on her recent experience of a cat-napper!

This week’s focus was Work in Progress and several members had brought in something to share.

Vic was first up with a continuation of her story that centres on the reluctant pole dancer, Chelsea. In this chapter, Chelsea is panicked by the sight of ‘Mr Jobsworth’ from the dole office in the audience. A plea to her unpleasant boss Barry to be excused from performing lands her in even more dire straights when she is sent to dance in the VIP lounge. We are given a glimpse of a room equipped for a more sleazy performance than Chelsea dare imagine which provokes a panic attack. Vic left us wanting more from her gripping tale; despite being behind with her uni assignment she was encouraged to make this work her priority from now on! So engrossed were some writers that a trip to an ‘ahem’ exotic club could well be forthcoming – purely for research purposes.

pole dancer

Sean joined us at this juncture and produced what appeared to be a giant air freshener masquerading as an incendiary device. His demonstration (which was so theatrical it could be included in next weeks theme of Circus) caused alarm when it shot fragrance across the biscuit tin threatening to cross-contaminate the hobnobs!

We heard next from Sean who picked up with his sequel to Running Through Still Waters in which the character of Ben’s story is told. We hear more of Ben’s back story; the fear instilled by his Mom’s partner Jaz which is replicated by his older brother.  Sean perfectly captures a moment in time in which we could all feel Ben’s pain. The dialogue brings Ben to life and the setting transports the reader into his troubled world.

Vicky gave us an excerpt from her ongoing novel that has a similar backdrop to that of Sean’s. We were given a glimpse of the protagonist, Mac as a small boy. The scene, set as Mac takes a bath, paints a picture of a troubled home life in deprived circumstances. Vicky asked the group’s opinion on how to transpose her work from handwritten sheets to computer. Also, the direction of her work isn’t yet decided and Vicky asked about choosing a genre. It was generally agreed that once she begins typing up the work, editing will come naturally and the ending may appear more obvious. Wanda is another writer who works well using longhand and transferring to pc. We also discussed the variations of ‘expert advice’ found online and in writing magazines. From ven diagrams to post-it notes or so called ‘pantsers’ (Google will explain) whatever works for you has to be write, right?

Anna followed on with a short biographical piece about the frustrations of baking a victoria sponge cake. Her husband is adept at producing the perfect dessert but Anna has had disappointments. The one she described to us involved a cake that emerged from the oven looking perfect but when displayed in a competition resembled a volcano! It was suggested that the magic ingredient is in the hands, warm hands, flat sponge!

I’m afraid this is where I cut loose and so missed Wanda’s contribution. If I ask her nicely she may share a paragraph or two later (after my depiction of her as an ageing BMXer I will have to be especially nice).

Next week will see the first evening meeting of the year, Thursday 6th Feb at the Castle Hotel between 7-9pm. You can catch us back at Tamworth Library on Wednesday 1-4pm.

 

 

Hidden Talents

It was a full house (well table) today in our library space between the non-fiction shelves.

We began by discussing a recent competition round-up which Wanda had shared amongst the group. Precia has received an email update from one she recently entered. Wanda, who had submitted work to the same competition had heard nothing. Tears and tantrums were threatened but thankfully the tea trolley averted attention. Unfortunately, there was no milk which almost resulted in the hurling of some mince pies on the cusp of their sell-by date – it would never have happened under Lou McGough’s watch.

Caroline was back amongst us today and shared news of a new project being produced by local writer Mal Dewhirst. The Adventures of Abigail Skyrocket will be performed by theatre company Fired Up who will soon be auditioning. Caroline, was present at a recent open morning and said that anyone wishing to help with writing, marketing etc., should attend the next meeting. The show is being written to coincide with the 130th anniversary of the Assembly Rooms, Tamworth incorporating many of the shows and stars that have performed there.

We were joined once more by English language student, Fayzur with his tutor, Patsy. They were hoping for lively conversation so it was time to move on to the subject of the day, Spotlight.

I read work by our newest recruit, Justin who checks in remotely via Yorkshire. He provided a short poem that dealt with the glare of the spotlight both acceptable and unwanted. Wanda liked the phrasing, particularly the ‘bright insight’ to which we often have no escape. A well-received piece by our cyber member.

Following on from her previous story introduction, Vic continued her account of a young woman trapped in work she despises. Forced to take a job as a pole dancer, our protagonist has become adept at getting through the ordeal, focusing on the music to drown out reality. The spotlight is turned on newest employee, Maria who suffers abuse from a disappointed audience as well as unpleasant boss Barry. Wonderfully descriptive language brings the characters to life, Maria ‘like a fledgeling pushed out of the nest’, was well depicted. Vic’s insight into pole dancing was questioned as the realism of this story had us on the edge of our seat.

Sue brought in a poem that dealt with the nerves faced by a ballerina when forced into the spotlight. When the principal dancer is unable to take part, the ballerina is promoted from signet to swan. Her confidence is shaken with nowhere to hide but once in the spotlight, her soul takes flight. Another expressive account which brought the words to life, the poem was beautifully narrated with a deep understanding of the dancer’s feelings.

Marilia was last under our Spotlight. Another brief poem whose theme included an actress who becomes a Duchess, a Prince now hiding in the snow. I don’t think you’ll need three guesses to determine the subject matter? For a short poem the words spoke volumes, interpretation was ambiguous. Well written and accurately current.

The subject matter of today’s writing aimed a spotlight on some of our member’s hidden talents. Whilst Vic vehemently denies having ever danced around a pole, Sue was in fact a ballerina. Not only that, she has performed in Swan Lake at Birmingham Town Hall as well as many other ballets; no wonder her poem was ‘en pointe’. Wanda revealed her talent as being able to ride a bike without holding the handle bars; images of Wanda pulling a wheelie down the skate park are hard to remove from my head now!

It was Wanda who rounded off our meeting with mention of her latest Dragon book. Showing us the illustration for the forthcoming front cover she explained that she has misgivings about her chosen title, The Dragon’s Nativity. Depicting gravestones engraved with humourous and thought-provoking epitaphs, a mist rises from the ground. Wanda explained how she needs the title to reflect Dragons transition through adolescence. Caroline suggested this is more a ‘Rite of Passage’, Moya thought of it hatching and ‘Awakening’ was put forward. The Pre-pubescent Dragon was rejected, I’ll get me coat… (If I’m not here next week it’s because Wanda is wheelie cross about the photo I’ve shared)

wheelie

New Words, New Members & New Work

There’s a lot to get through today so grab yourself a cuppa, get comfortable and we can begin.

The sun shone and a chill breeze brought us together at Tamworth Library; Sean blew in late after a narrow escape on his motorbike after realising that swapping a 750cc for a 125cc leaves you without the speed to escape danger!  Thankfully, along with six more of us, he made it to the second writers meeting of 2020 and some excellent work was brought to the table.

We have a birthday to celebrate, Cath one of the founder members of our group who hasn’t been able to make it to meetings for a while has just celebrated her 90th birthday. Sending love and best wishes to our nonagenarian (I had to Google it – a sign of the times). As a relative newbie to the group, I’ve been fortunate to hear several pieces of work penned by Cath, in particular, her reminiscence of the day a telegram boy brought news that her father was missing in action in WW2 is one that has remained with me, wonderfully emotive writing.

We began this week by listening, rather than reading our work as Precia shared the beginning of her audiobook recording. Taken from her latest novel, In Dangerous Company the audio is being voiced by up and coming actor Christopher James. It was an excellent start, the characters voices portrayed well, each individual given a clear identity. It was noted that the pace began slowly, four seconds having to be added between chapter heading and start, this is the industry norm. Thanks for sharing, Precia, we all learned something new and audiobooks are definitely a growing trend, good luck with future sales.

Before we got to the subject of the day, we were introduced to an English language student, Foyzar from Bengal. His tutor explained that although Foyzar lives and works here in the town, his knowledge of conversational English is limited as at home only Bengali is spoken. We may be joined by Foyzar in future so that he may listen in and join some discussion with the group.

Wanda also brought to our attention the Open Mike evening run by Mal Dewhurst taking place this evening at Tamworth Castle. As you will no doubt read this in retrospect, I’ll try to get info on any forthcoming events and share them in advance.

Today’s subject was Translation, I hadn’t produced work on this topic myself but, brought along a poem penned by a friend of mine Justin Price. Entitled Rest In Peace, this was a departure from Justin’s usual writing style and he welcomed feedback from the group. The subject deals with the horrors of WW1. Leading us from a young soldiers arrival in the trenches, taking in his thoughts, feelings and observations and ending with his name, etched in granite on a wooden cross.

The group declared it a powerful piece of writing that brought the horror of war to life. Precia found it more prose than poetry but said the meaning behind the words evoked memories of her father’s wartime experiences. Wanda thought the repetition of lines and alliteration used was particularly effective and very poetic. She confessed that partway through, the words brought tears to her eyes, the poem staying with her some considerable time after. It was thought generally the work could be edited down, Sean suggested two separate pieces of work. The group was unanimous in being moved by the imagery and emotion of the poem, the language was as beautiful as it was graphic.

I put it to the group that, although living too far away to attend in person (he’s reet up t’north) Justin would like to join Tamworth Writers. It was unanimously agreed that this would be good and so we welcome our very first remote member. Using a blog page accessible only to members, we will be able to share work and feedback reviews.

Taking us back to the subject of ‘Translation’, Precia had produced a fascinating piece of work following her research into the historical London language, Flash or Patter Flash. The language of thieves and pickpockets in the early 19th Century.

Precia read out examples for us to guess, some are easier than others.

Cracksman – house-breaker / Dimmer – good looking / Bit – coin / Gospel shop – church / Dandy Pratt – puny fellow / Hempen Widow – widow of a hanged man / Mouser – cat / Jabber – talk / Crib – room / Glaziers – eyes / Fizz – face / Squeeler – child / Prattle broth – tea

It’s interesting to see how many of these have made it into modern day slang. There were more that would have to be shared with a content warning; machinery has a whole new meaning…

Wanda read to us next, having added to her most recent children’s book she wanted the group’s opinion on the ending she’d extended. Featuring Dragon once more, this latest work sees Dragon taking part in the school Nativity. Inside the school, the teachers pack away and Dragon receives a keepsake from his friend Jay.

The story then shifts outside where a memory is awoken by dragon song, conjuring up mythical figures, a time for rebirth. The language used in the final paragraph is more mature, speaking to a slightly older age group. As Wanda intends, the ending heralds a new beginning and certainly draws readers towards the next adventure. Expertly written using beautifully, poetic prose. Wanda’s first book in the series, The Hungry Dragon is available on Amazon.

dragon book

The next contribution came from Sean. Those of you who have read Sean’s last novel Running Through Still Waters will have been introduced to the character, Ben (If not it’s a must read book available on Amazon). Sean’s new work focuses on Ben’s story, without giving too much away (you have to read the first book), Ben is a troubled youth having had a dysfunctional childhood. The excerpt we heard deals with Ben’s reaction to a man he mistakenly believes is a threat from his past. The dialogue hooks you immediately and the descriptive language is shockingly good. It’s always a treat to hear Sean’s trademark honest, cut to the chase storytelling – our very own Shane Meadows!

Ok, this is when I left the building, apologies if I missed anything  – remember you can join us between 1-4pm at Tamworth Library.

 

Our 2020 Debut

It was the First day of Tamworth Writers 2020 and we had a good turn out although not everyone managed to produce their debut, piece of work.

The theme ‘Debut’ was only taken up by Vic who produced a piece of work based part on fact, part fiction. A great start to our writing programme, we were taken via a jobsworth in the dole office to the launch of our protagonists pole dancing career in a backstreet club. A lively discussion on this dance style ensued, during which we learnt where to find proud lines (you won’t find them on Googleand Precia gave us an insight into her technique when crossing a stile.

As I’d not completed any homework I cheated by bringing in my Tamworth Writers debut the first short story I wrote when joining three years ago. It also happened to be the first fictional tale I’d penned since forging school sick notes. It was strange revisiting an old piece of work as I’d forgotten the plot line (it was that memorable).

The Writers then listened to some feedback I have received on a couple of excerpts from my book. Wanda has kindly edited them for me and her sister, Cerisa also read them and supplied some excellent comments. As a result of this I shall be resuming my editing forthwith as I am entering one of the excerpts in a Life Writing Competition. I am learning that editing is a game of two halves; first what you change and correct yourself, followed by what others see that you don’t. I’m 10,000 words in, just another 65,000 to go…

Precia had some exciting news about her latest novel, In Dangerous Company. It is in the process of being recorded as an audio book by an up and coming actor (who’s name I will drop in here once I retrieve it). News this week has confirmed that audio books stimulate the same areas of the brain as reading books. The rise of podcasts and audio books confirms that this is the way forward for authors, good luck Precia with your latest project, can’t wait to hear it!

in dangerous company

Next weeks theme is Translation. We will be on the first floor of Tamworth Library between 1-4pm for anyone who wants to come along and write; all genres and abilities.

Happy New Year!

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