The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

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

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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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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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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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Happenings in Dorchester

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I was invited to the launch of the Dorchester Literary Festival last week to represent the Dorset Writers’ Network. Held at Duke’s Fine Art Salesrooms there was a mingling of sponsors and supporters plus writers including Kate Adie. It was a splendid event and included the launch of a new competition. The DFL Local Writing Prize invites self-published authors in the South West (and those who have been published by an independent publisher in the South West) to submit copies of their full-length fiction or non-fiction books for this prize. This is a wonderful opportunity for a local writer to gain national recognition and a chance to win £1000. Find more details here.

While I was happy chatting with fellow DFL volunteers, my friend decided we should make an effort to talk to others. We introduced ourselves group who turned out to work for WessexFM and Breakfast in Dorchester. This was the most successful piece of networking I’ve ever done! The next day I was contacted by Breakfast in Dorchester and invited to talk about National Poetry Day. You can hear the recording of me (I speak at 1:57:39, Sarah Barr at 42:41 and Myriam San Marco, Bournemouth Poet Laureate at 1:19:30) by clicking here. (The recording is available until 27 October 2017.)

As part of the interview, I was able to promote the Dorset Writers’ Network Open House at Dorchester Library on 7 October from 10am-1pm. This is a free event for anyone who is interested in writing. Whether you’re new to writing or want to make a start, we can offer advice and encouragement. If you’re a published writer wishing to meet others, the Dorset Writers’ Network is here to support you. I hope to see some of you on Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

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Writers’ Open House

Do come along to this event if you’re a published writer or just beginning your writing journey.

Flyer for 7 October

About the Dorset Writers Network

Run by a voluntary steering group, the Dorset Writers Network offers support to writers across the county including isolated writers in rural areas. Their last funded project resulted in the publication of an anthology by Dorset writers titled This Little World.

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Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017, best bits

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Photograph by Jim Barton

I was fortunate to attend many different events at the book festival this year but these are my highlights:

Ian Stephen and Philip Hoare shared their passion for sailing and the sea. Ian read from his brilliant new book Waypoints (I bought a copy and am looking forward to diving in) and Philip talked about his wonderful obsession with whales.

A ten minute reading at 10am by Yrsa Sigurdardottir had me enthralled by her new novel The Legacy.

The Bosco Theatre on George Street was venue for a remarkable poetry performance by Scottish poets Jenny Lindsay and Michael Pedersen who were joined by poets from Australia Luka Lesson and Omar Musa.

I also attended a workshop offered by Elizabeth Reeder which discussed the novel Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski. Another one for my reading list.

 

 

 

 

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Flat out July

 

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After four years of hard work I submitted my novel and thesis to the University of South Wales on Friday 28 July. This is in partial fulfilment of a PhD in creative writing.  The next hurdle is the viva but in the meantime I’m savouring the feeling of being unencumbered with studies. But the writing does not stop here. I’m going through my novel with edits to try to secure a publisher for The String Games and a collection of flash fiction is currently with the editor of Bridge House Publishing and will be released later this year.

Looks like it will be flat out August as well!

 

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Flash Fiction Festival, Bath

I enjoyed an absolutely excellent time at the first Flash Fiction Festival held in Bath over the weekend 24-25 June. The programme included two workshops each day and I was lucky enough to attend sessions offered by Kit De Waal, David Gaffney and Tania Hershman. Another session was led by Jude Higgins and Meg Pokrass with two winners from the Bath Novella-in-Flash competition. This proved to be a very interesting session which has started me thinking about a new project. For a Novella-in-Flash, each chapter is contained in a piece of flash fiction. This must be shaped in such a way that it can be read as a stand alone piece while at the same time supporting the story arc of the novella. Sounds complicated? It is! Thank you to Charmaine Wilkerson and Ingrid Jendrzejewski for their helpful tips and advice on how this can be achieved.

Saturday evening provided the opportunity to launch the National Flash Fiction Day 2017 anthology titled Sleep is a Beautiful Colour which is packed with amazing flash fiction stories. I’m looking forward to delving further into my copy having heard some wonderful flashes as part of the launch. I particularly like Stephanie Hutton‘s Geology of a Girl, a superb micro-ficton.

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