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Saturday, 31 October 2015

October Round-Up: Ups and Downs

Further to  the previous post, some things came off well, others less so ...

The Portswood Library centenary celebrations went very well, with some staff in vintage clothing, lots of exhibits, and the mayor cutting the cake. Penny Legg and I each did a short turn about our books; small audience with one chap rapidly falling asleep but the rest giving their attention.

Then Southampton's Festival of Words SOToSpeak15 began!

Authors on the water Southampton-Isle of Wight was entertaining, although my pitch in the family lounge was surrounded by very vocal preschoolers so a talk was not possible. Even so, had some very nice chats with children about reading and writing, and sold some books. The Solent was slightly choppy but not enough to bother us.

Very small audience at the Boutique Village, but even the children who were too young for my Millie the Detective books watched and listened as I hammed it up with the actions of the school bully and the fretting of the goodie characters. And again I sold books. Maybe should consider a late career on the stage instead.

The writing group of which I've been a member for about 6 years was given our own competition with prizes in each of the four categories. At a very lively awards ceremony in local bar/restaurant The Stage Door, I learned that I had come first in both of the categories entered - flash fiction and non-fiction. This was a shock, but very heartening as during the weeks beforehand I had seriously considered giving up writing. Some of the prize money will go towards raffle prizes to be won at our fab group Christmas tea at the Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton.

The one-day writers' conference sadly had to be cancelled. I had collected loads of books and leaflets for our writing group trade stand, sorted them into categories, and made a plan of how the table would look. However, it was worse for those who were booked as speakers.

Made the longlist but not the shortlist for the Bath Flash Fiction Award, again honestly unexpectedly. This rolling award has just restarted, and I think it's worth entering again and working even harder this time.

So it's been quite a month, which also saw self-publication of Millie the Detective's second case, The Thief Unmasked. Details are at - a five-star review already - and info about the first book is not far away from that.

Happy November, all, whether or not your plunging into NaNoWriMo!


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

October 2015 will be some month ...

Much of my activity this month relates to Southampton's Festival of Words, SOToSpeak15 - - which runs from October 23rd to November 1st. But not all.

October 2nd was meeting day for Southampton Writing Buddies, of which I've been a member since soon after the group was formed six or seven years ago. As the group owner was away, I chaired the meeting. Always a worry, as she's a Duracell bunny and a great group leader. Still, decent-sized turnout, lots of members in chatty mode, and a great workshop from magazine short story guru Barbara Dynes.

On October 4th I, along with up to 49 other writers, received a very cheering email to advise that our entry to the Bath Flash Fiction Award had been longlisted. Especially thrilling since it's the inaugural award and will be ongoing, always stopping after 1000 entries before restarting soon afterwards. I didn't have high hopes, as the competition comes from the prestigious Bath Short Story Award stable, but gave it my best shot.  

Still to come:
On October 22nd my local library, Portswood in Southampton, is celebrating its centenary. As part of the festivities, our writing group owner and I are giving short talks about writing and our books, and hopefully working our way through some cakes. Delighted to be invited to this; the library is very community-friendly and hosts regular events. Including cake sales.

October 26th, first weekday of local half term, will see me boarding Red Funnel ferry Osprey to the Isle of Wight for a straight there-and-back in the family lounge chatting about writing and about my two books for children. Planning to wear something sparkly. A number of Writing Buddies are doing this during the day, and we're all hoping for a calm sea ...

On October 27th I've a date at The Boutique Village in Millbrook, Southampton to chat with families about writing and my books. It's an open, free event, and again other Writing Buddies will be doing the same during the week.

As Southampton Writing Buddies are involved with the Festival, a competition was set up for members to submit fiction, non-fiction, poetry and/or flash fiction, with three prizes in each category. I have entered but shouldn't say what or which category until the judging is completed. On October 28th there's our award ceremony where we learn our fate in this competition. We're a fairly large but very cohesive group, and it does seem odd to be competing with one another, but a great incentive to get on and write.

October 30th is a big day - the Festival's Writers' Conference at Southampton City College. There will be some amazing writing-related talks and workshops throughout the day, and I'd be there even if I didn't have a part to play. Writing Buddies have a 'trade stand', and I'll be enjoying organising it. Have already amassed a good collection of books, booklets, laminated short pieces, biogs and other publicity material and have planned how it's all going to be displayed. Very fine displacement activity, that.

November will seem very flat, writing-wise, but time to relax.