The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

Story Slam, North Dorst

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Scripted Reading

Scripted readingThere is going to be a scripted reading of screenplays written as part of a Bridport Arts Centre course which was delivered by Hester Schofield. My screenplay titled Love Hearts is included in the programme alongside Bertha’s Legacy by Elizabeth Friend, Bloodlines by Maya Pieris, Second Fiddle by Maria Pruden-Medus and Christmas Haunting by Sarah Scally. Each reading lasts approximately 10 minutes and lines will be delivered by actors from Bridport Arts Centre. As my screenplay is about improving the life chances of an illiterate young homeless man, members of the youth theatre BACStage have been approached to take the parts of the two teenage leads.

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Sicily

I’ve wanted to visit Sicily ever since I saw The Godfather. The film was released in 1972, so I must have watched it a bit later on the television. While chatting with other tourists, several mentioned that scenes from the film In Postino prompted their visit. I can’t remember seeing that film but like us, they were rather off-piste as Il Postino was filmed in Messina and the location for The Godfather was in towns outside Taormina. However, when we reached Ragusa, we learnt that this was the location for the Inspector Montalbano TV series, so we did finally make it a film location.

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Beaumont Park Poetry Trail

Beaumont Park is a fabulous 20 acre site on the outskirts of Huddersfield. Constructed in 1880s it was accessed by a tramway from the town and boasted a castle, pavilion and bandstand. According to Henry F Beaumont, the landowner who provided fields for the conversion, ‘Parks are necessary for large and populous towns to increase the happiness and promote good health and elevate the minds of people.’

The Friends of Beaumont Park work with Kirklees Council to restore the park and I’m proud to be part of a project which aims to bring art and nature together. My poem, Walk was selected from entries to the poetry trail competition and is now on permanent display.

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My poem is one of 25 included in the poetry trail. The acrylic plaques work well displaying every  12 line poem to great effect. It’s wonderful to wander around the gardens and read poetry written by the very young and the more mature. Indeed, I was so impressed with the whole idea of bringing poetry into a public space, I talked with one of the organisers of the poetry trail to find out whether is possible replicate the project elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

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Serious walk

Being such a lovely morning, there was no excuse. I’ve managed to put off doing a decent walk every weekend this year. Usually I claim there isn’t enough time and we settle from a stomp along the sea front from Preston to Weymouth. Today, the glaze of blue sky and warm sun had me dig out my walking boots and we headed off.

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Notice the eucalyptus tree!

I chose a walk from cuttings David had saved from a magazine. I ruled out the strenuous ones, and we settled on a circular walk around Corscombe. However, when we’d gone about a quarter of the way (and David was struggling with the instructions) he realised page two of the route was from a totally different walk. Not being ones to retrace our steps, we followed our noses and found a path.

Sheep followed us at one point. thumb_IMG_0603_1024

IMG_0604And the clumps of snow drops were compensation for trailing through mud.

We’ll be better planned, next time.

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The Beacon, Issue 1

s245645246236175034_p1_i1_w320 This time last year I was regularly travelling to Bournemouth to attend CPD training in workshop facilitation offered by Lit Up! Writing. (You can find a post about the programme here.) The latest Lit Up! initiative sees the publication of poetry and prose by  writers living in Dorset and beyond. The Beacon, Issue 1 is an ingenious anthology compiled to reflect the theme of performance. Act 1 includes work by fellow Wimborne Writing Group members Mary Bevan and Richard Green. My flash fiction ‘Graft’ appears at the end of Act 2, while Kim West (who also attended the Lit Up CPD training) has a poem in Act 3. Biographies for the writers appear under ‘curtain call’. It’s a pleasure to have my work included in such an innovative anthology. Well done to Ben Johnson for putting it together. Copies of the anthology can be purchased here.

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Teaching in Wales

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This is the view from the third floor office where I work at the University of South Wales, Treforest Campus. It’s been impossible to take a photograph until today, when it’s finally stopped raining. I’m enjoying my time on the campus. It’s great working with enthusiastic students and I’m finally able to make use of the library for my PhD research after relying on remote access as a distance learning student.

Most weeks I leave home for work at 6am, arriving around 3 hours later and begin teaching at 11am on Monday. I stay in Pontypridd most weeks from Monday until Thursday, when I deliver a session with third year students. This talented group are working towards a major project for submission later in the year. I’ve also been busy marking assignments which critically compare examples of historical and contemporary children’s literature.

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Going it alone

You may remember I won a prize in 2012 to have a collection of my short fiction titled Four Buses printed. While it was lovely to win a competition, I didn’t realise what was involved in producing a print-ready pdf of the collection. I was fortunate to have the help of Julie Musk with the process but how do others approach the task of self-publishing?

The Dorset Writers’ Network drew upon the support of Helen Baggott to help in the production of a wonderful anthology of short stories titled This Little World. It occurred to me that others might be interested to know how Helen can support writers wishing to self-publish.

Helen Baggott

Helen Baggott, Copy-editor and Proofreader. Partner Member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and an Associate of The Society of Authors.

Helen edits and proofreads manuscripts, she also works with authors preparing their documents for self-publishing – as e-books and paperbacks. A lack of confidence in computer skills shouldn’t be the reason a writer can’t experience the thrill of seeing their work published.

She’s passionate about supporting indie authors and as a member of ALLi, she is able to pass on tips and hints that might not be easily accessible to anyone embarking on a self-publishing journey. ALLi is committed to raising the standard of self-published books.

She often half-jokes that no-one will come knocking on an author’s door, asking if they have a book to sell. Marketing is also part of the self-publishing journey and she is able to help with advice on that too. You can find Helen at www.helenbaggott.co.uk

Helen has done some work for me in proofreading a manuscript and she’s recently supported Sue Stephenson in putting together an e-book. Sue has seen a massive increase in the traffic to her blog where readers have been searching the archive to find posts of a story called Powerless – The Year The Lights Went Out. The story has proved so popular that Sue’s taken the step of self-publishing Powerless as an e-book. You can find out more about it here, or visit amazon to purchase a copy. It’s a wonderful story that imagines what it would be like to suddenly have to live without power. The characters show such resilience and resourcefulness – it’s a fresh and absorbing read.

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New year – new job!

USW-logoI have started work as a lecturer with the University of South Wales delivering a module titled ‘Writing for Children’. The post is for 12 weeks to allow my PhD supervisor relief from his teaching schedule to undertake research. This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I’m thoroughly enjoying the chance to support students in the second and third year of their undergraduate studies in creative writing.

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Holidays for 2016

This being the third day of January, I’m celebrating the fact that I’ve booked three holidays for 2016! (I’ve ditched my Boxing Day blues and have begun to look forward.)

"Taormina.Teatro Greco" by M. Schwarzwälder - Own work.

“Taormina.Teatro Greco” by M. Schwarzwälder

 

First up, I’ll be travelling with my husband to Sicily for 6 days at the end of April. A quick flick through the Rough Guide (a Christmas present from my mother) and I saw we could travel from Catania to Palermo by buses or trains and booked flights to and from these airports. Other destinations I’d like to cover are Taormina for the Teatro Greco and Siracusa.

 

In June, my friend Cathie is over from Australia and I’ve arranged a visit to Santiago de Compostela. I lived in the city for a year in 1986 and studied for my A levels while Brian Henry and others worked at El Centro Britanico teaching English as a foreign language. I took my family to the area last year and loved it so much that Cathie’s visit provided a good excuse for another trip. I’ve since been brushing up my Spanish and hope to engage in many more conversations that I was able to do last time. I love the old streets and plazas of the city.

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“Calle de San Francisco, Santiago de Compostela” by Diego Delso.

Edinburgh is my third destination with a visit during the fringe (although I particularly like going to the book festival). I usually attend the ten at ten sessions where visiting writers share a short reading. It’s always a good way to start the morning.

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What holiday plans do you have for 2016?

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