The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

Retreats for You with Debbie Flint

I met Debbie Flint in 2011 when we both attended a retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre.  (I returned there last year – you can read about my second visit here.) Debbie works as a presenter on QVC shopping channel, has a number of books published, and she’s recently taken over a writing retreat in Devon. It was great to touch base with Debbie again and draw upon her experience as a TV presenter to produce a couple of YouTube clips where I talk about my writing journey. Debbie’s help was invaluable in introducing me to interview techniques, accessing handy tips and supporting me through the process. I’d never done anything like this before so her coaching allowed me to feel confident throughout filming and I’m delighted with the results. You can watch the interviews here.

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Debbie has made Retreats for You into a homely and relaxing place to write and reflect. My window overlooks the square with views onto the fields beyond. There’s no excuse for not getting on with your work as a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided. It’s  also good to be in the company of other writers and tap into the positive energy this creates. A few days away makes all the difference to my word count, I find!

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A good start

img_0963The first snow drops appeared in our garden at the weekend and it’s always something to celebrate. More are pushing their way through the earth and soon there will be a shock of white on the bank. Other good news this morning came in an email from Nina Killham. She offered to provide feedback on a synopsis and the first fifty pages of a novel  as part of the Authors for Refugees fundraising scheme. I was lucky enough to place the winning bid and now have some positive ways forward to hone the opening pages of my latest manuscript The String Games. (It’s worth looking out for the Authors for Refugees scheme next autumn as there are some fabulous writers, agents and publishers who offer their services to raise money to support refugees.) Nina has three published novels and another one in draft. Due to my interest in children’s voices in adult fiction, I read Nina’s novel Believe Me which is narrated by thirteen-year-old Nic, who is brought up in an atheist household but turns to Christianity. It’s an assured study of the relationship between a boy and his mother and is well worth reading.

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Standing room only

In a new bid to lead a less sedentary life, I’ve started visiting the local swimming baths three times a week. Currently, I can swim 1km in forty minutes but I’m fast improving on that time. Also, as I spend far too much time sitting at my desk, I decided to clear a workspace on a filing cabinet to create a new standing desk. Here I am at my new work station.

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It took me a whole day to clear a relatively small space (I didn’t realise quite how much stuff I had stashed in boxes and bags). Most of it relates to previous employment working in schools and as many of the resources are now available online, I was able to ditch quite a few folders. However, I want to be able to apply for a post in educational management with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) one day, so I’m not ready to relinquish everything. After a serious tidy up, my shelves now look like this:

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There remain one or two boxes I haven’t looked in and the top shelf is still a dumping ground but what an improvement. I’m so pleased with the result I just had to blog about it!

What does your working space look like?

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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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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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Shelfie: publications that include my stories

 

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I’m making the most of my recent success with Elle magazine – thank you for all your comments and encouragement. While I don’t want to be the sort of blogger who spends posts boasting, it is gratifying to celebrate the markers of progress. I started writing in 2009, and had my first story published in 2010 with a payment of £25. Other stories and flash fiction followed, both online and in anthologies. My shelfie shows where you’ll find my writing in print and I’d like to thank all those who have made it possible  for my stories to reach an audience. These include:

All the time, new opportunities to become published are available. I’ll try to keep you updated with these through regular blog posts. Good luck with getting your writing out there.

 

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This Little World, an anthology by Dorset Writers

51DPQ9oOlwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_You may remember back in January, I wrote a post about creative writing workshops which were held in rural locations around Dorset to promote creative writing. (You can read the post here.) The workshops were offered by steering group members of the Dorset Writers’ Network and encouraged participants to submit a 500 word story, based in Dorset, for inclusion in an anthology. This Little World is the result of hard work by all those involved.

The stories in this anthology are by writers from 11-70 years. Each story is a real gem of no more than 500 words in length which celebrates the diversity of the county. The anthology is available in paperback through Amazon, click here for details. An ebook of the anthology will follow.

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What I remember, a new anthology by EVB press

51l8IL14LYL._AA160_I’ve a story in a new anthology titled What I Remember published by EVB Press. In The Game, I use 500 words to tell the events of an abusive weekend through backwards chronology. I became interested in Everyday Victim Blaming when I heard Louise Pennington talking about the campaign  on Radio 4. The organisation reviews media coverage of violence against women and children, and identifies where news reports have overt victim blaming content. Incidents include the rape girls who are so drunk that they cannot stand up, yet men claim sex is consensual. Media coverage offers excuses to support the abuser rather than showing compassion for the victim.

Other writers who have stories in the anthology include Cath Bore, Carol Fenlon and Mandy Huggins.

Click here to purchase a copy of the anthology – all proceeds support the organisation.

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This Little World: workshops and publication launch

Please find details of a writers’ day in Dorchester with flyer and booking form below:

BOOK LAUNCH FLYER 2015 MASTER

NOV 14TH WORKSHOPS - BOOKING FORM

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Dorchester Literary Festival

Victorian Gallery, Dorset County Museum

Victorian Gallery, Dorset County Museum

The first Dorchester Literary Festival runs from 23-25 October 2015 with events at Duke’s Auctioneers and the delightful Victorian Gallery in the Dorset County Museum. I’m a volunteer steward at Desert Island Books with Tracy Chevalier and I’m planning attend the session delivered by Dom Joly on Friday. You’ll also find me helping at the Young Peoples’ Story Slam on Saturday held at Dorchester Library.

 

If you’re able to attend any of these events, I look forward to seeing you.

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