The writer is a lonely hunter

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Brisons Veor, a writing residency

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I am enjoying the last couple of days of a two-week writing residency at the wonderful Brisons Veor, in St Just in Cornwall. This is made possible by the trust which accepts applications from anyone working in the arts to enjoy a period of respite from the distractions of daily life to focus on creative projects. The house is part of the brick building beyond the white houses. Constructed as a boiler house for the Cape Cornwall Tin Mine, it was converted by an architect in 1978 and purchased by Tracy O’Kates, the benefactor of Brisons Veor. It is believed to be the westernmost dwelling on the English mainland. You can also see the 138 year-old chimney stack of the mine which forms the highest point of the Cape.

Brisons Veor is situated at a point where Atlantic currents divide, moving south to the English Channel and north to the Irish Sea. In 1987 the Cape was purchased for the nation by Heinz, and given into the care of the National Trust. This unique location provides a rich environment for ideas and creativity to flourish.

 

It has been a wonderful fortnight of solitude, isolation and the elements. The wind is fabulous: it turns the sea into a rucked white apron that spreads over the blue. When the sun is out, warmth floods through an open doorway into the first floor workshop. The sound of the Ocean sucking, clawing and whooshing is a constant accompaniment. Inside at night when the wind blasts the walls, Brisons Veor embraces the occupant, safe and warm.

What a privilege to spend time at Brisons Veor, such a remarkable location. During the fortnight I have written poetry and started my next novel, this time using a six-year-old boy as the narrator of ‘That’s What I Know’.

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Writers & Artists conference in Dorset

Scripted reading

Writers & Artists have teamed up with Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) to bring a How To Get Published conference to Dorset on 28 April 2018. The aim of the day is to provide tips and practicalities for getting to grips with writing.

The conference will take place at AUB where there is plenty of free parking.  The day will include: a writing workshop of your choice with Natasha Pulley for fiction, Nelle Andrews for non-fiction and Kayo Chingonyi for poetry; panel discussion with leading editors and publishing experts and the chance to hear from leading literary agents Emma Paterson and Therese Coen who are always on the lookout for debut authors to add to their lists. The programme provides information and advice about the writing and publishing process to help progress your book.

For all local writers there is an exclusive discount code to save £30 upon booking, and secure a ticket for just £65 (RRP £95) with lunch included. Simply enter AUBWRITE18 at the checkout to unlock your saving. You can find full details of the conference and booking information here.

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Gliterary: a glittery collection of tales

 

Here is a video to promote the newly published anthology Gliterary. This is a glittery collection of glit-er-ary tales that will add sparkle to your life. It includes a story by me titled “Brighter than Jewels”. You can purchase a copy here or if you would like to receive a mobi-file or pdf to enable you to review the anthology on Goodreads or Amazon, please let me know by making contact here.

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What a weekend!

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L-R Michelle Donkin, Sarah Scally, Gail Aldwin, Andrew Allen

On Saturday I was delighted to be in the audience for Cast Iron X a short play night by Cast Iron Theatre in Brighton. The programme included Killer Ladybugs a ten-minute comedy written by Sarah Scally, Maria Pruden and I. The photo shows Sarah and I with the founders of Cast Iron, Michelle Donkin and Andrew Allen. We were fortunate to have Michelle direct the play and act in a small part. The production was excellent: great performances and splendid use of lighting. Many thanks to Michelle and the actors Esme Bird and Andrew Allen.

It was fascinating to watch the other plays, too. Quite remarkable to see how minimal props , effective lighting and clever writing can support such a range of creative work. I particularly enjoyed the play written and directed by Sam Chittenden. The Two of Us  was performed by Annie Packman and Kerri Frost with an interesting section of dual speeches delivered simultaneously.

A bonus of travelling to Brighton meant that we were able to stay with Regina Keith who now lives in Peacehaven. Regina is doing a wonderful job continuing her commitment to global health by teaching on the post-graduate programmes Global Public Health Nutrition and International Public Health Nutrition at the University of Westminster. Well done, Regina – keep up the excellent work!

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Killer Ladybugs in Brighton

Back in May, I posted details of a comedy sketch writing workshop delivered by Juno Theatre in Lyme Regis. The collaborative 10-minute play developed from the workshop by Sarah Scally, Maria Pruden and I was then performed as a scripted reading at the Marine Theatre. (You can read about the event here.) After the positive feedback we received on Killer Ladybugs, I sent the script to other theatre groups and it has been accepted for performance as part of a short play night with Cast Iron Theatre in Brighton.

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I am delighted to say that Killer Ladybugs will be performed by Cast Iron Theatre 24-25 November at Sweet Juke Box Theatre, Brighton. If you’d like to get tickets, you can purchase them here.

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Book Review: Women in Horror, Annual 2

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The Blurb

The Women in Horror Annual 2 is the second volume of an anthology of horror fiction and nonfiction written by women. WHA promotes and celebrates female voices in horror, and the stories and papers contained within represent a diverse group of writers, each with their own unique vision. Ranging from supernatural tales of horror to quotidian terror, and touching on themes of empowerment, insanity, and freedom, the stories herein run the gamut from melancholic to darkly humorous. As was the case with the first volume, WHA 2 is further proof that horror has something for everyone.

My review

With a range of voices and settings this annual makes an entertaining read. Many of the stories are pacy and well-written with the kind of details that had me shuddering. The characters are interesting with plots that take readers on surprising and scary journeys. Well done to all the contributors and the editor, C Rachel Katz.

A pdf of the annual was kindly supplied by Aly Rhodes to enable me to write this review.

A Kindle edition of the annual is available to purchase on Amazon.

 

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Writers’ Day at Salisbury Literary Festival, 29 October 2017

I had a splendid time at the Writers’ Day in Salisbury. The programme was packed and started with a warm-up session using improvisation as a tool for writing by Alison Jean Lester. The ‘yes, and…’ task was a great way to generate and overcome problems in story telling by working in partnership to produce alternating lines of a story.

Further workshops followed including an excellent session delivered by Rupert Wallis which provided a rule of thumb for generating a 25-word summary. Rupert suggested starting the summary with the  word ‘when’ and introducing the problem to be overcome with the word ‘must’. For my novel The String Games, a summary might be: when Nim’s brother is abducted and murdered as a child, she must overcome unresolved grief as an adult to integrate the loss.

Susanna Dunn offered a workshop on ‘finding your voice’ which suggested that close attention to detail brings authenticity to writing. She advises writers to ‘listen with the ear of your heart’. Helen Corner-Bryant followed with suggestions for ‘unleashing your inner editor’ where she described ways to approach ‘instinctive’ and ‘structural’ editing.

After lunch there were two panels: one with a focus on publishing and the next with advice from agents. The last session was offered by Mark Dawson which gave remarkable insights into the world of a hybrid author (one that has been traditionally published and self-published). Interestingly, he felt it was vanity to seek a traditional route to publishing when the options for self-publishing can be more lucrative and offer better engagement with readers.

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Mark Dawson (right) in conversation about the secrets of self-publishing

Food for thought.

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Authors for Grenfell Tower

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Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, many authors came together to offer their time and expertise to raise money for those suffering from the fire. I was one of the lucky people to secured a lot through Authors for Grenfell Tower. This was back in the June and Amal Al-Agroobi (filmmaker, director, producer and writer) was very patient in delaying our meeting until the autumn. She also kindly agreed to not only meet me, but my fellow screenwriting collaborators Sarah Scally, Perwina Whitmore, Jane Rayner and Maria Pruden.

We took an early train to London on Saturday to meet Amal in the cafe at the PictureHouse Central where she shared feedback from our 90-minute screenplay titled The F Word. Although there is still much work to do on the screenplay, the meeting was a wonderful way to learn more about the filmmaking process and has inspired us to refocus on our project.

To make the most of our day out in London, we went to a matinée of Heinsenberg: The Uncertainty Principle, a new play by Simon Stephens.  The two-hander was at Wyndham’s Theatre with Anne-Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham.  I loved the minimalist set and performance.

We ate lunch in China Town, had afternoon tea on the South Bank and then enjoyed a bottle of Prosecco on the train journey home. Quite a day!

 

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A sense of place fiction workshop

Flyer for Rosanna

I am delighted to announce that in partnership with Waterstones Dorchester, the Dorset Writers Network are offering the following workshop with Rosanna Ley at Waterstones in Dorchester on Sunday 5 November 2017, 1:30-3:30pm.

A Sense of Place Fiction Writing Workshop with Rosanna Ley

Does your fiction lack a sense of place? By the time you leave the workshop you will:
  • understand the role of place in fiction: where to go and what to do in terms of research for your story or novel
  • develop atmosphere in your descriptive writing using all the senses and visualisation
  • learn how to connect your viewpoint character with their surroundings
Places limited to 12
Cost £15
Click here to book through the DWN website.
Rosanna Ley has written numerous articles and short stories for magazines. Her novels The Villa, Bay of Secrets, Return to Mandalay, The Saffron Trail, Last Dance in Havana and The Little Theatre by the Sea have been published in the UK and widely overseas. Rosanna has also worked as a creative writing tutor for over 20 years. She has led courses for colleges and universities in England, and runs her own writing retreats and holidays in the UK and in stunning locations in Europe. She lives with her artist husband in West Dorset and her favourite writing place is anywhere with a sea view.
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Salisbury half

It was a year ago when I was in Salisbury with friends from New Malden at the time of the Salisbury half marathon. The finish line is close to the cathedral and as we watched participants walk away in specially printed T-shirts and wearing medals, my friend Deborah suggested we should enter the following year. She said it would be a great achievement, a target for our exercise plans and a life changing event. I had never run before (apart from occasions when I needed to catch a bus) and had no interest in running. But, by the end of the day, I had agreed to enter the Salisbury half in 2017.

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Before the start, Salisbury half

I spent the next couple of months trying to work out how I could get out of this commitment. By November I realised no excuses would be accepted and bought a pair of running shoes. At the end of December, I went to park run for the first time and completed the 5km route although I did walk the hilly bits in Richmond Park. The next park run was the flat course at Weymouth where I found that running wasn’t too bad. It was in January 2017 that I signed up for the half marathon – you can see I was one of the first from the number 3 I wore.

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On 1 October 2017, I completed my first half marathon. My practice runs hadn’t been more than 10 miles, so this was the longest course I’d ever completed. I was determined to run all the way round and to finish before the three-hour limit. In spite of rain, I ran the course in 2 hours 51 minutes and am now the proud owner of this medal.

I’m now thinking of entering the Casterbridge half which takes place in Dorchester on 27 May 2018.  Who would have thought it?

 

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