The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

Apothecary, open mic in Bridport, Dorset

Apothecary is a monthly spoken word open mic session held at the Beach and Barnicott in Bridport. Run by Rob Casey, Ged Duncan, Tom Rogers and Sophia Moseley, it offers the opportunity for  a range of writers to share their work in five-minute slots.  Click on the link below to hear me reading my short fiction titled Burnt Toast.

The next Apothecary night will be held on Wednesday 10 May 2017. Get there by 7pm for a 7:30pm start to secure your place to read. Enjoy other Apothecarian readings by watching Apothecary Cure on YouTube.

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Bridport Story Slam

Each year, to support entries to the flash fiction Bridport Prize competition, there is a story slam that takes place in Bridport. This year it will be held on Monday 3 April from 7.30pm in the Arts Centre Café. Tickets (£5 for readers and for writers) must be purchased in advance from  the Arts Centre box office (01308 427183 and http://www.bridport-arts.com). If you would like to read a 250 word story,  please also register your interest by emailing  frances.colville@gmail.com.

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If more people want to read than there are slots available, names will be drawn from a hat on the night. Those who sign up have a good chance of being able to read (although this is not guaranteed). Do go along. It’s a great fun evening with prizes and feedback from the judges.

 

 

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Writers’ Day in Bournemouth

This time last week I was busy preparing a presentation titled Tips and Techniques: the voices of children in adult fiction to deliver as part of the Dorset Writers’ Network Day at Bournemouth Library. I got up early on Saturday to have breakfast and there was time to read over my presentation but when I opened the front door to set off, I found the car was not on the drive. I have been sharing a car with my daughter for a few weeks now. The deal is, I let her know when I want to use it. The arrangements had been communicated but somehow she forgot. I guessed where the car was, about a mile away outside her boyfriend’s house. I began sprinting up the road, only to realise I hadn’t checked in the garage to see if by some miracle, it had been parked in there. Back again, only to find the garage empty. Realising I was in no fit state for an early morning jog, I called a taxi. Meanwhile, with my daughter still not answering her mobile, I tried to make contact with other members of the network to let them know of my predicament. Finally a call came from my daughter who was on her way home. I cancelled the taxi, waited at the top of the road to ensure a swift handover, then sped over to Bournemouth. I arrived with a few minutes to spare for the start of the day. When I recounted my morning’s misadventure, a fellow network member commented that it would make a good start to a story. I’ll keep that in mind for when I’m next short of an idea.

The Writers’ Day was well received by participants and we’re looking forward to another occasion to deliver further input in support of writers in Dorset.

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L-R me, Tracy Baines (DWN), Vickie Goldie (Bournemouth Library) and Helen Baggott (DWN)

 

 

 

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In the Highlands

Here is the short fiction story that came highly commended in the National Poetry Day Bournemouth flash fiction competition. It’s titled In the Highlands.

Scan 8Droplets fall in parallel lines and the rain plinks against the earth. Banana leaves fan the mist, and beneath the covered balcony of the lodge, there’s activity in the kitchen. I’m startled by shouts in Tok Pisin then I concentrate, trying to make sense of the words. Elias appears barefoot in the doorway and watches the downpour; his springy hair shows a scattering of flour. He lights a cigarette rolled in newsprint and takes a long drag. ‘Im bagarap.’

‘Bugger up, indeed.’ I assume he’s referring to the weather, but it could be a disaster in the kitchen, judging from the smell of burning that wafts. He disappears inside before I have a chance to practice my conversational skills, not that he really wants to talk to me. It’s easier being with the women in Papua New Guinea. They chatter and stroke my hair with fingers thin as vanilla pods.

When the sun splits the clouds, I walk to the edge of the gully. The land is covered in a lemon light and the river is a piece of twisted foil. In a clearing, little children emerge from kunai houses, squat wooden buildings with smoke seeping through the thatch. One boy is naked but for a belt of twine strung around his middle and his head’s been shaved. The hair is used to make ceremonial wigs which the tribesmen decorate with bird of paradise feathers. I have at least learnt something during my study tour.

‘An-i-ta’ The three syllables of my name bounce over the distance from the lodge. I return to find Elias with his hands cupped. Whatever he’s holding, I hope it isn’t alive. Last night a moth the size of a dinner plate had me cowering under the covers.

‘Lukim yu.’ He hands me a clump of moss and the roots of an orchid show. The flower hangs delicate between the leaves. I lean close to breathe the scent of honey.

Elias’s smile is broad and his brown eyes dance. ‘Nais.’

‘Very nice.’ The flower nods as I examine the structure and the dotted markings on the waxy petals. I find words of thanks in Tok Pisin, ‘Tenkyu.’

Elias shows me how to strap the orchid to a tree and each day I walk the garden to admire the plant. The gift is an entry into his world.

 

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Writers’ Day in Bournemouth

Join me at a Writers’ Day where you’ll be able to network with other writers, find out more about writing in different genres and become part of a new Dorset Writers’ Network project to be launched in 2017.

Venue: Bournemouth Library, 22 The Triangle, Bournemouth, BH2 5RQ

Time:  10am – 4pm

Date:   Saturday 22 October 2016

I have enjoyed working alongside all the workshop leaders and can thoroughly recommend their input.

Finding your character’s voice in Young Adult fiction

Chantelle Atkins is a prolific writer of YA fiction who has extensive knowledge of the genre. If you’re interested in finding out how to develop the voice of teenage characters, this is the workshop for you.

Researching your historical fiction

For an erudite workshop, you can’t do better than this. The team combination of Frances Colville and Tom Colville brings together the best approaches in research and provides ideas for how to apply this knowledge in developing your writing.

The art of self publishing

If you’re looking for sound advice from someone with substantial experience in helping writers reach their audience through self publishing, look no further than joining this workshop delivered by Helen Baggott. Have all your questions about the journey to become an indie author answered.

Child characters in fiction

Extend your repertoire of techniques in writing about children in adult fiction. Child narrators, child protagonists and child characters, when framed creatively, can add new dimensions to your writing. Join this workshop delivered by me and learn about the strategies published authors use to achieve authentic child characters.

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Also available are one-to-one surgeries for feedback and advice on improving your writing.

I hope to see some of you in October.

 

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Three go mad…

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With Deborah and Janet, I spent a few days in Edinburgh. As well as going to the Botanical Gardens (where this photo was taken), we also went to sessions at the festival, fringe and international book festival. So many great events to attend, but my absolute favourite was the free fringe show offered by Harry & Chris, a personable pair who have an upbeat take on life shared through a spoken word and acoustic set. Have a  listen to Whaddyawannado and Simple Times on soundcloud.

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Aethiopian Maid

Please find below the story I mentioned an earlier post. It is written in response to Tiff Oben’s artwork which forms part of the Engaging in the Past exhibition at Oriel y Bont. Aethiopian Maid acknowledges the black presence in Tudor England.

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The green silk gown hangs on a wooden pole. The girl has fingers thin as cinnamon quills and like in colour. She runs them over the embroidered hem. Clusters of pansies in gold and silver thread have faces marked with pearls. This is a gown of much importance. Clara checks the fabric, a task she undertakes every spring when moths are wont to cause damage. A smell of herbs and lavender pervades. Dried flower heads fall from the folds. She checks the seams and gathers for holes but none are found. Her mistress prizes this gown more than any other and work is needed to keep it fresh. Clara takes the gown  and carries it outside where she hangs it in the breeze of the warm spring day.

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Viva South Wales

 

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Although I have Viva Las Vegas ringing in my ears, this post is about an academic viva. Yesterday, I was examined by Julia Green, author of YA books including Breathing Underwater, and programme leader at Bath Spa University. After a 90 minute discussion about my work, Julia confirmed that I can continue my studies in Creative Writing to PhD level. I am pleased and relieved. There will be a lot of work involved, but with Philip Gross and Diana Wallace as my supervisors, I will be well supported.

While I was at the University, I took the opportunity to visit the Engaging with the Past exhibition. Held at Oriel y Bont, the exhibition accompanied the Representing the Tudors conference held during the summer.  I was asked to use one of the exhibits as a stimulus for a piece of creative writing. I’m pleased to say my story ‘Aethopian Maid’ is displayed next to Tiff Oben’s artwork. The story acknowledges the Black presence in Tudor England.

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Fabric at the British Library

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This is a piece of fabric I bought while on holiday in Banjul, capital of the Gambia. We spent a day in the city in order to  visit the Methodist Church where a new generator had been purchased  by the congregation  in New Malden.  The cloth celebrates the Methodist Church in the Gambia and I became fascinated by the Gambian tradition of wearing fabric to acknowledge and promote many different things. I remember seeing a woman in Albert Market wearing traditional dress with a matching head wrap in bright, printed fabric. When I asked if the cloth was for sale, I was told it was worn in support of a political party. While logos and designer brands have become part of popular culture in this country, it seems that wearing anything to indicate allegiance to a political party is limited to a badge or rosette.

I was prompted to make this post after visiting the West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song exhibition at the British Library.  There you will find a whole range of artefacts that demonstrate the interlinking nature of word, symbol and song including texts, drums, shell-stories and, of course, fabric. It’s well worth a visit. 

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Story Slam, Bridport 2015

Scan 1Organised by Frances Colville, the fourth Bridport story slam  was another wonderful event. I was honoured to act as a judge alongside novelist Rosanna Ley and Nick Macy, manager of Waterstones, Bridport. Author Laura James was an excellent MC at the event.

Sixteen writers entered the story slam although owing to constraints of time, only twelve were able to read. Each writer shared an original story taking up to 5 minutes for the reading. We were impressed by the high quality delivery from all the writers, readings were offered to engage and entertain. The stories took us to places far and near as well as emotional journeys of recovery and love. There was much humour, too: from a chuckle to the laugh out loud variety.

Much of the writing was carefully crafted, giving hints and clues, making the stories textured. There was a wide range of genres including fantasy, sketches and letters. Some stories contained clever twists and characters from history and fairy tale were given new life. It was a very hard job for the judges to agree on the top three stories. Read the rest of this entry »

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