Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Trouble With Cats...

Chris was on a downward spiral, but keeping going anyway because it's the only way to go after spending so many years on what is going to be a brilliant read.

Rob is to attend two writing groups who have read his latest release and has been notified that 'Out of Such Darkness' has been longlisted for The Guardian's Not the Booker Prize. Here's the link if you'd like to read more.

Having seen a play about The Lone Pine Club, Tony went on to write a review. This was spotted by the Malcom Saville Society and after they promoted the post via social media, Tony has seen a spike in traffic to his blog. The review is to be published in the Malcolm Saville magazine.

Annie plans to run her own website after posting lots of entries on her school's blog and being inspired to write her own website. Based on writing techniques for children, the site is called 'Write There.' She also continues to work on Polly Poodle.

Linda has finished a submission for this year's Myslexia Women's Novel competition and has registered for a Guardian Masterclass on submissions.

Linda read Chapter Four from 'Chelsea Beach.' The general consensus, as always, was that Linda's writing was atmospheric, emotional, descriptive and poetic. The opening paragraph with its description of a house filled with cats set the scene for family mayhem. As the chapter unfurled, we were treated to an emotional read about Phoebe's sixteenth birthday celebrations organised by her grandparents.

Annie thought the chapter revealing about life at home through the eyes of sixteen-year-old, Phoebe. Izzie loved the descriptions of Phoebe as someone having to be grown-up before her time. Tony thought it a comforting read and imagined the book being selected for Radio Four's 'Book of the Week.' Rob thought it quite brilliant, but possibly offensive to cat lovers. While Chris thought it was descriptive and the dialogue, 'expert.' 

In Linda's right to reply, she revealed that she'd not had much time to devote to writing the chapter. As we were all so taken with it, this came as quite a surprise.   
The next meeting is to be a summer social event held at Rob's on the 10th August at 7:45pm.

Monday, 20 July 2015

A local writing group for local people

We met at Tony's on Monday 13 July.

Annie is continuing to work on her children's poetry and has spent a picture-book-writing day with her Proper Writing Group.

Tony has been invited by Persephone Books to review one of their books on his blog. He has submitted three short stories to Popshot magazine and he's also planning to write a proposal for a book based on his research on wellbeing and mental health.

I have been revising the final two chapters of Karl Marx and Careful Driving. I was able to report that I have done two talks on the cycle-ride to Beijing: to Bromsgrove Motorcycle Club (Monday 7 July) and to Leominster Vintage Club (Wednesday 9 July), selling respectively thirteen and seven copies of 'Why Don't You Fly?'  

Linda has been working on a new book, provisionally titled Chelsea Beach. She will be entering A Head Full of Budgerigars in Mslexia's women's novel-writing competition.

Rob, who has been heavily involved in organising Bewdley Book Week, test-reading the manuscript of Karl Marx and Careful Driving and landscaping his garden, has been invited to three local reading groups to talk about his latest novel Out of such Darkness. I don't know how he finds the time, even in retirement.

The submission was from Rob's novel-in-progress The Petrified Fountain. Our hero flies out to Lisbon to meet a cousin he has traced through a private investigator. The descriptions of the city are testimony to the week the author spent wandering Lisbon's streets earlier this year specifically for the purposes of research.  We all enjoyed Rob's development of the fastidious narrator (a man, he assured us, who would absolutely have said 'quotidian' rather than 'daily') and the introduction of Luis Fonseca, the chain-smoking cousin who happens to be a private investigator himself. Tony remarked that Cross's meeting with his cousin in a dingy, smoke-filled office was evocative of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and wondered if it was for real or a parody.

As with all first drafts there was the odd typo to point out and the syntax was occasionally a little clumsy. Annie felt occasionally that the descriptions of Lisbon sounded a little too like a guide book and Linda was of the opinion that Rob might have added more of the city's sounds and smells. Writing convincing dialogue spoken by foreigners is a minefield. Given that Fonseca professed himself to be bi-lingual, I was concerned that Rob's efforts to make him sound foreign in the passages of dialogue might be misconstrued by some readers as poor writing. Rob countered that since the claim to be bilingual was Fonseca's alone, the faintly stilted English was a joke - but in my opinion one a little too subtle for the majority of readers to pick up (had the English been truly awful we'd have got it).

Cross dons neatly-pressed tan chinos and a plain Hawaiian shirt for the meeting with Fonseca. 'Plain Hawaiian shirt? Oxymoron!' we jeered, almost in unison. Not so. Plain Hwaiian shirts, we were reliably informed, can be bought on the internet.

Finally we discussed whether to use further or farther and complexion or complection. All spellings are permissible but farther is used exclusively for distances.

The next meeting is at 7.45 pm on Monday 27 July at Annie's. Linda will be submitting. Now I really must go and book those tickets for Bewdley Book Week.

Blog posted by Chris.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Remember: It’s always sunny above the clouds!

We met at Izzy’s house. There were only the four of us, as Rob was otherwise engaged with some old friends and Tony was in Bournemouth.

Linda and Izzy have both been busy with life in general and so had no writerly news to report. Chris had given a talk and sold nine books. I (Annie) have totally reworked Polly Poodle and am pleased with the way it is progressing.

Chris read an extract from ‘Karl Marx and Careful Driving’. Izzy was astounded by the depth of Chris’s knowledge of periods of history that are not mainstream or even in our psyche. Izzy also enjoyed the playlist that punctuates the story with the switch from Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ to Mozart’s clarinet concerto as Chris and his armed security guard take it in turns to hear their preferred music during the trip.

Linda thought it a brilliant read and was absorbed by it. She found the history parts fascinating and enjoyed the punctuation provided by Chris’s lighter observations about life on the road. Linda also paid homage to Tony. At SVA we each have our part to play. Rob is the patriarch, Linda the matriarch, Izzy the techno queen and Chris the brains. But Tony is the hyphen police. Stitching words together where they have been pulled apart. But something exciting happened in his absence! Linda spotted a hyphen that had been included and needed to be removed! Cumulo-nimbus to cumulonimbus.  

For me the piece was a good balance of history and more mundane, trivial matters such as how to avoid getting shot by armed bandits. The relationship between Chris and Vladimir is developing well for the reader if not in their reality. The links between sections were subtle with Chris stopping at a bakery to buy bread shortly after musing about bread rationing in the Soviet Union in 1934. I did challenge Chris when he asserted that ‘everyone has common sense.’

Keep going, Chris! I remember how mentally exhausted I was once with a 10,000 thesis so I can only begin to imagine the magnitude of this project!

The next meeting is July 13th at Tony's house. Rob is submitting.