the writer is a lonely hunter


Dorset Feather Stitchery

Feedback from my recent post about the history of paisley print (you can read it here), directed me to the tradition of the Dorset feather stitchery. This is an embroidery stitch that was originally used to decorate rural workers’ smocks. The pattern uses feather stitch, buttonhole stitch, chain stitch and fly stitch to create a pattern similar to the droplet shaped motif found in paisley patterns.

Background to the development of this embroidery style can be found in a book written by Dorset woman Olivia Pass, published in 1957.  Even from the cover design, the border shows remarkable similarity to paisley patterns.


It is delightful as the writer of a short fiction collection titled Paisley Shirt to find the design incorporated into local Dorset craft. There are examples of Dorset Feather Stitchery in the Bridport Museum or you might wish to read Olivia’s book. Like my collection Paisley Shirt it is possible to purchase Dorset Feather Stitchery on Amazon.


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Triumphs and Challenges of 2017

Click on the pictures to find out what I’ve been up to!





Good things come in threes, too!


I’ve had three anthologies drop through my letterbox this week. It’s always a thrill to see my creative writing appear in print and this time I have two pieces of short fiction and one poem to celebrate.

Flash Fiction Festival One is an anthology of stories inspired by input at the first Flash Fiction Festival held in Bath during the summer 2017. Thank you to Jude Higgins as the director of this wonderful event and her team who have brought together flash fiction stories written by workshop presenters and participants. My story “Where There’s a Rick” draws upon a clash of events and memories and is told in just over 200 words.

Glit-er-ary is the annual anthology published by Bridge House. It is a glittery collection of glit-er-ary tales that will add some sparkle to your reading. My story titled “Brighter Than Jewels” is set in Australia and draws upon the relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter.

Under is a collection of poetry published by Miriam Dokotliver and David Ross Linklater. Within the enigmatic cover are poems in a range of forms and styles which make for great reading.

So, good things come in threes, too!


Writers & Artists conference in Dorset

Scripted reading

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.


Killer Ladybugs in Brighton

Back in May, I posted details of a comedy sketch writing workshop delivered by Juno Theatre in Lyme Regis. The collaborative 10-minute play developed from the workshop by Sarah Scally, Maria Pruden and I was then performed as a scripted reading at the Marine Theatre. (You can read about the event here.) After the positive feedback we received on Killer Ladybugs, I sent the script to other theatre groups and it has been accepted for performance as part of a short play night with Cast Iron Theatre in Brighton.


I am delighted to say that Killer Ladybugs will be performed by Cast Iron Theatre 24-25 November at Sweet Juke Box Theatre, Brighton. If you’d like to get tickets, you can purchase them here.


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.


Mark Dawson (right) in conversation about the secrets of self-publishing

Food for thought.


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.

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.



Digital Story Project


Reading on Screen Group, Bournemouth

You may remember a recent post about a three-day workshop offered at Bournemouth University. Attendance enabled me to create a digital story about my reading journey. It was a fun experience where I learnt a great deal about editing audio and video. To read more about the workshop, click here. The end product, a two-minute digital story titled Journey is now available. Although there are plenty of things I would like to change if I got to work on this digital story again, you can have a look at the story by clicking here.


Poetry and Prose Performance Workshop


Rob Casey

On Saturday 10 June, I joined sixteen other writers attending Rob Casey’s workshop at The White Room, in the Chapel in the Garden, Bridport. The building is set back from East Street and provides a delightful oasis on a busy market morning. We had such fun trying out ways of how-not-to perform and of course, there were plenty of tips and advice to get the delivery right. Rob had us working in small groups to share ideas and generate writing for development. It was great to hear other people’s work and learn from an experienced performance poet.

Rob is one of the founders of the Apothecary Open Mic, poetry and spoken word event that is held regularly at the Beach and Barnicott in Bridport. For more information see the Apothecary Facebook page.

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