The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

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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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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Salisbury half

It was a year ago when I was in Salisbury with friends from New Malden at the time of the Salisbury half marathon. The finish line is close to the cathedral and as we watched participants walk away in specially printed T-shirts and wearing medals, my friend Deborah suggested we should enter the following year. She said it would be a great achievement, a target for our exercise plans and a life changing event. I had never run before (apart from occasions when I needed to catch a bus) and had no interest in running. But, by the end of the day, I had agreed to enter the Salisbury half in 2017.

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Before the start, Salisbury half

I spent the next couple of months trying to work out how I could get out of this commitment. By November I realised no excuses would be accepted and bought a pair of running shoes. At the end of December, I went to park run for the first time and completed the 5km route although I did walk the hilly bits in Richmond Park. The next park run was the flat course at Weymouth where I found that running wasn’t too bad. It was in January 2017 that I signed up for the half marathon – you can see I was one of the first from the number 3 I wore.

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On 1 October 2017, I completed my first half marathon. My practice runs hadn’t been more than 10 miles, so this was the longest course I’d ever completed. I was determined to run all the way round and to finish before the three-hour limit. In spite of rain, I ran the course in 2 hours 51 minutes and am now the proud owner of this medal.

I’m now thinking of entering the Casterbridge half which takes place in Dorchester on 27 May 2018.  Who would have thought it?

 

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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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# Finally getting to grips with hashtags

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I have revived my interest in Twitter (you can find me @gailaldwin) and I’m now seeing the benefits of using hashtags. This is a way to find likeminded people on social media and the current hashtags I’m using frequently are:

#dorsethour – a chance to touch base with others who are passionate about Dorset. Online every Monday from 7:30pm – 8:30pm

#Devonbookhour – chat about books online each Monday from 8pm-9pm

#Tuesnews – lots of members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association use this hashtag to share information on Tuesdays

#women_writers – highlight the achievements of women writers by using this hashtag

#digitalinclusion – came across this hashtag as part of the digital story project where I made the two-minute film  Journey

#womenintranslation –  find out about notable female authors whose work has been translated. Also see #WITmonth held in August which celebrates women in translation

For further information on how to make the most of hashtags see Neetsmarketing.

 

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Fashion as an inspiration for writing

The Wimborne Writing Group went on a summer outing this week to the Blandford Fashion Museum. Tucked away behind the market square in a delightful Georgian house, the fashion collection of the founder, Mrs Betty Penny, forms the basis of the displays. I loved looking at garments from the 1960s and 1970s and remembered owning dresses with Laura Ashley flower prints. My favourite exhibit was a mini dress and hot pants set made from lime green cotton with white trim. It was sleeveless with off centre decorative lacing on the skirt in matching white cotton.

Sarah Barr  who leads the  Wimborne Writing Group, provided some prompts for writing as we browsed the displays. She suggested we find an outfit we liked and to imagine:

  • who the owner would have been
  • what they were like
  • their name, age and occupation

Why don’t you have a go at writing a short piece of prose by using Sarah’s prompts and applying them to this lovely exhibit?

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1960s Mini Dress and Hot Pants Set

Get in touch if you’re willing to share your story.

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A guest on 90.1 Hope FM

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Kimari Raven on Livewire LIVE

I was fortunate to be invited onto Hope Radio’s Livewire programme to talk about my participation in the Reading on Screen workshops which resulted in the production of my digital story titled Journey. Kimari Raven hosts the weekly show  which showcases creative talent in the Bournemouth area. The live show is aired each week on Wednesdays from 7-9pm. It was a great experienced to be interviewed by Kimari who creates a relaxed environment in which to talk. I was pleased to be on the show with another guest, the hugely talented singer and songwriter Tim Somerfield. It was great to learn about Kimari and Tim’s experiences of writing lyrics and to begin to see similarities in the process with writing prose and poetry.  I felt very privileged to be sitting beside Tim as he performed his songs live on radio.

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Tim Somerfield

This was my second interview on radio following an earlier recording on UK Talk Radio with Jonathan Hines. You can read about that experience here. It is fascinating to be in a recording studio and a pleasure to share my love of writing.

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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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