The writer is a lonely hunter


#fridayflash – Saxophone Player

Flash fiction story in 191 wordsfile0001020632881

Saxophone player

Performing on the bridge behind Notre Dame, the singer wears a flat cap while his friend plays the saxophone. I linger beside the companion I met while sharing a table for lunch. She’s alone in Paris, without any family to consider. Mine are at home, seething at the way I’m spending my pension on travelling the world. The musicians finish their song and I join the applause. The sun pierces the filigree clouds and a breeze makes me hug my elbows. I wonder whether the singers pay a fee to perform on the bitumen. Displayed on an open suitcase are CDs for sale and the saxophone player beckons me over to take a closer look. While I examine the cardboard envelopes, the singer calls to the audience, asking them to make a request for the next song. I select a CD, search in my wallet for a note and hand it to the saxophone player.

‘Do you know, “I’ve got a crush on you”?’ I ask.

‘Really?’ He blinks. His green eyes should belong to a cat.

‘No,’ I accept the change he places in my hand. ‘I mean the song.’



All quiet at the Writer is a Lonely Hunter

It’s been very quiet on this blog over the summer. While I have been busy writing, there has also been some time away. I had a fantastic week at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where I was introduced to writers including Etgar Keret, who talked about his recently published  The Seven Good Years. In this memoire, he shares the experience of living in Israel with parents who were holocaust survivors. The memoire covers the period from the birth of his son to the death of his father. I bought a copy of his short fiction titled Suddenly, a Knock on the Door and he signed the book in a unique style. And, although I’m not much of a photographer the light in Edinburgh one evening was so amazing that I took the shot below.

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Using sayings from around the world as a prompt for public speaking

mag59Previously on this blog, I have written about my membership of a local public speaking group (you can read about the Casterbridge Speakers here). Last week, it was my turn to lead the table topics section of the agenda. Here members of the group are asked to give an impromptu talk on a non-specialist theme or topic for up to two-minutes. Some people love the challenge – others hate it. My role is to select topics in advance of the meeting which  allow speakers to share stories or offer opinions. According to Toastmasters International,  this role will  help to improve my organisational, time management and facilitation skills.

In order to offer a non-threatening subject for a two-minute talk, I looked to issue 65 of Writing in Education  for ideas. There, an article by Robert Paul Weston used Japanese sayings as guidance for writers. This got me thinking about using sayings from around the world as a prompt for a two-minute talk. After a little internet searching, I came up with these prompts:

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Skylark Literary visits Shaftesbury, Dorset.

Leading London-based literary agency, Skylark Literary, is undertaking a tour of rural areas in order to reach writers unable to attend urban venues. The session will hosted by Storyslingers and offered on Friday 17 July, from 6:30-8:30pm at the Garden Room, Shaftesbury Gold Hill Museum, Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7 8JW. The talk will cover the children’s publishing industry, followed by a Q&A session with particular reference to writing for young people. Author Kate Kelly will also be present to answer questions from the writer’s perspective. Everyone welcome.

Suggested donation £3

concept 01 final

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Call for submissions, The Beacon at Lighthouse

In January, I joined a series of training sessions delivered by Simon McCormack as part of the Lit Up! project.  The sessions to support skills and confidence in writing workshop facilitation were excellent and I met a very talented group of writers through the work.  Simon is now writer-in-residence at Lighthouse, Poole, a centre that provides live events, films and visual art.  As part of his new role, Simon has become editor of a new literary magazine titled ‘The Beacon’ which will launch in October. For writers in Poole and surrounding areas, see your work in print by entering submissions of  poetry, flash fiction or short fiction with the theme of ‘performance’. For further details, please see the poster.












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Poole Festival of Words

Please find below details of events on Friday 24 July and Saturday 25 July which form part of the Poole Festival of Words. I’m running a workshop on the Friday and supporting the Open Story Slam on Saturday. I hope you will be able to attend.














Also details of an open mic night Thursday 23 July and further workshops held over the weekend

flier cover

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How is your summer shaping up?







Saturday 27 June was the last day of my course with fellow students on the MPhil Writing at Pontypridd. I submitted my transfer paper to PhD for discussion to help with preparations  for the viva which is likely to take place in the autumn. I have learnt so much during the two years of part-time study, particularly about plot and structure of a novel.

The Winchester Writers’ Festival was held the previous weekend, so it’s been a busy time. I’ve been madly rewriting the first three chapters of my novel ready to resubmit to a couple of people I met at the event. I’m also involved in preparations for the Poole Festival of Words at the end of July, so that’s enough to keep me focused for the next few weeks.

How is your summer shaping up?


Open Story Slam, Poole



Here are details of an exciting new story slam which is offered by the Dorset Writers’ Network as part of the Poole Festival of Words 2015.




Thrill and surprise the audience with your 500 word story (to be read within 5 minutes).

The finest writer will become Poole Festival of Words’ Story Slam Winner 2015.

Your judges: writers Michael O’Byrne, James Cole and Jennifer Bell.

Your MC: prize-winning poet Ben Johnson


SATURDAY 25 JULY 7.00 – 9.30pm

Tickets £5.00 on the door for readers and audience

Register in advance by emailing to give your name or turn up on the night. Ten names will be selected from a hat to fill the reading slots scheduled for the evening.

This event is of interest to readers and writers alike. You will be able to listen to a range of stories and experience something a little different.

I look forward to seeing you there!



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First 3 pages of a novel: adjudication

It’s the Winchester Writers’ Conference on Friday and I submitted How to be Brave into the first 3 pages of a novel competition. Shortlisted entries will be posted at the conference on Saturday morning and winners announced in the evening. So, it was with some surprise that I received the adjudication to my entry yesterday. Actually, the feedback is quite handy as I can work it into my pitch when I meet publishers and agents during the one-to-one sessions I’ve booked.

Here is my elevator pitch for the story:

How to be Brave uses an alternating narrative style to show how misplaced childhood guilt impacts on adult life.

Here is an extract from the feedback:

This story has a unique premise which feels quite current and commercial and the two timelines is always a clever way to show backstory and help your readers really understand your characters.

There were also comments on things I need to address, so it’s giving me more direction on moving forwards.

I’ll let you know how I get on at the conference in my next post.




Writing places: a new project

Thomas Hardy's Cottage

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage

The National Trust, Literature Works and the Poetry Archive have formed a new partnership to offer to offer a programme of events celebrating the literary heritage of the South West. The launch of the programme was held on 2 July (the birth date of Thomas Hardy) at Max Gate. As an invited guests, I toured the house, listened to Andrew Motion read from a forthcoming collection of poetry and found out more about the project. Five National Trust properties with strong literary connections, including Max Gate and Hardy’s Cottage,  will have professional writers appointed to act as writers-in-residence. The purpose is to explore ‘the domestic lives of some of the country’s greatest writers, revealing how the houses and landscape that they loved inspired them to create their masterpieces, and how these places continue to be relevant today’.  A programme of workshops and events will be developed so that writers and visitors can contribute to the project. Find out about developments as the programmes progress by visiting the Writing Places blog.

As a result of the launch, I’ve discovered it’s well worth visiting the Poetry Archive.  I spent a delightful couple of hours listening to poets read from their work. By following  a tour of the archive with Mark Grist and David Almond (there are many tours to choose from), I was introduced to new poetry, which I loved. The experience encouraged me to try my hand a writing a poem – the first one since school days!



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