Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Great Time Had By All At 42!

42 Worcester's photo. I accepted the great challenge of writing material which would be suitable for this event – as I am such a scaredy cat that my over active imagination struggles to keep any grasp on reality. Sometimes I challenge myself to read books from this genre but cannot read them after dark!
Anyway I knew I had written some poems this year that would be suitable and I set about writing a few new ones.
I know that often poet’s perform the same set or parts of it – I like the fact that signing up to a new event forces me to write new material.
1 month – 5 events in Leamington, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Birmingham and Worcester.
And my confidence is high – audiences are so kind and other poets are great at giving feedback.
*Mid spooky verse
Thanks to Andrew Owens for making me feel so welcome and using my blog tag line in the introduction!
I also saw a writer I met back in April at Keith Lindsay’s Writing Workshop. We got talking and he leant me a book – about writing – will help me through NaNoWriMo for sure!
1 42 So thanks for trusting me with it James.
I had a fabulous night, heard a mixture of stories and poems and had some great feedback on my set.
The adrenalin is surging!
The only sad thing – is about 20 minutes before I was due to leave for the city – I found out that it was optional fancy dress. In previous years I have loved dressing up for Halloween
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and this year we hadn’t made any plans to. The only party/ gig we have been invited to clashes with a gig we have already booked so until a few weeks ago I had no need for a costume. Unpacking my fancy dress wasn’t a priority and it is still buried somewhere in the 3rd bedroom (which we will tackle later this week!) … I did have skulls on my dress…. and at least I didn’t have to worry about my make up running!
A spoken word event was the perfect way for me to include Halloween into 2013.
The next one is a Flash Fiction event, so may need to work on some material for a while!

Spooky Spectacular


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For the 2nd time this week I am back behind the mic. Tonight’s Spoken Word is Drummond 42 and it is a spooky spectacular.
I don’t tend to write scary stories or poems so I have found finding and writing my set challenging.

It is great to seek these challenges and new opportunities both as a poet and a performer.

The result is I have several poems that would never have been written.

I am feeling nervous – I usually post after the event.

Fingers crossed it will be as great as all the others!

The Blank Screen – Productivity for Creative Writers Workshop


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The Blank Screen – Productivity for Creative Writers – A workshop at ‘Book to the Future Festival’ with William Gallagher.

Rushing into the city last night I barely arrived on campus in time for William’s workshop, add 20 minutes wandering around in the dark and generally in the opposite direction to the Arts Building (and that was with a map I had the foresight to print!) I was rather late for this session and they were already on Point 5 …. fortunately I can email William today and not only get the notes but apologise for the late arrival and sharp exit … I was performing in Jan’s Phenomenal Women (see previous post)!


I have found that in the last 2 workshops I haven’t learnt anything new (due to my own hard work researching and finding the information) – but they have confirmed that I am doing the right thing, that my own research and learning has taken me in the right direction. I am just as eager as I was at the beginning of the year to attend as many workshops as I can and hear from writers who are doing it for real.

My notebook gets filled with a few extra scribbled names or books to seek out if nothing else.

1birm8 William Gallagher is a great speaker and if you get a chance to attend any of his events or better still buy his book then I would recommend it. He has a humorous, relaxed approach and I wish I had managed the entire hour of his talk.

I have to retract the previous statement of not learning anything new – in the short amount of time I was in the workshop I have picked up on new knowledge. New actions that I am attempting to put into place this morning. Especially email… yes, William, I am one of those with 1600+ in an inbox and having opened several new accounts to offload the problem have only compacted it – with new addresses storing up to a 100 emails!

So thank you for your wisdom and insight. A great workshop!

Another Great Night Behind the Mic


Last Thursday I ventured into the City to a Spoken Word event at the ORT café. 1 birm ort1

It was a fantastic evening, a great mix of performers – stand up, music, monologues, story telling and of course, poetry.

It was also my 3rd return to life behind the mic. The atmosphere was wonderful and the audience very receptive. Somewhere between the first poem and the end of my set I found my confidence … nerves vanished and in an almost out of body experience way I heard the voice of a lioness come from deep within. 1 birm ort yelp

That performance poet who has sat on a shelf gathering dust since 1998, reappeared! It went really well and I received positive feedback.

As if the night couldn’t get any better… I had a chance to speak to other performers and met Tessa Lowe, a fellow poet who told me about a festival at the university, which I hadn’t come across. It is the first year they’re attempting it and advertising isn’t as widely posted as many other local events. (They could have ridden on the coat tails of Birmingham Literature Festival, I will email the organisers with ideas for next year as far as promotion and marketing – although I suppose the faculty has a limited budget!)


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Last night I ventured back into the City, walked around campus feeling my old student spirit rise to the surface. That home within a home feel that I never really felt when I was studying for degrees, but 14 years into the real world, campus is a safe place I yearn to belong to.1 birm 8

I was attending several events as part of ‘Book to the Future’ festival created by and mainly for the 1 birm uni2

I had heard of Jan Watts 1birm9 as she was poet Laureate a few years ago. I had also heard of ‘Phenomenal Women’… A group of talented female (as the name suggests) writers/ poets.

After searching the web for a while1 birm3 I found the festival programme and read that Jan was interested in hearing from other performers. I dropped her an email, along with Andrew Kileen and Katharine D’Souza whose events I had missed over the weekend.

Before lunch my 4th performance this month was confirmed.



Even the hot flushes of nerves seemed to have diminished by this evening, although they may have been helped by the open window! And the familiar environment of a lecture hall.

It was a great night with some fantastic performances. Inspiring. I read many more poems that I had planned, as we all got a second bite of the Apple. I also found out that the theme was family – none of us knew that… Not many of us connected our material…. I opened with a poem I had just scribbled whilst Jan introduced the evening. It was about and for my great aunty Sheila who celebrated her birthday with us on Sunday but whose actual birthday was Monday.

I opened my set with this poem.1 scottish poet


Great night, next gig is Wednesday!

INKSPILL 2013 – Thanks and Credits


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Thanks to everybody who has dipped in or taken part in the INKSPILL Online Writing Retreat 2013. It has been a very successful initial venture and awritersfountain will definitely host an annual INKSPELL event.


The initial idea came when I found out about Iyanla_Vanzant’s Wonder Woman Weekend.

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I couldn’t afford to go, although it would have been a great event to attend, I decided I could facilitate my own special weekend in place of this.

And Inkspill was born.

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You voted for the name (although it was my favourite choice) and some of the content of the weekend and statistics show that this has been the busiest weekend all year, somewhere at the beginning of the life of the blog (February) we hit 116 as the busiest day, this was slam dunked with 162 hits/ visitors on the first day of INKSPILL and it hasn’t dipped much since.

We hope that everyone who came has gained something from their visit. Many of you will have produced new writing or discovered something new. Made connections or found some great websites and resources.


Many thanks to everyone who kindly gave permission to have their work reproduced and sites linked to the INKSPILL event.



We would appreciate you spending a few minutes to feedback here

AWF circleUntil next year…

INKSPILL – Comes to a close, with the inevitable feedback form!

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As with all events, retreats and workshops your feedback is valuable. So now INKSPILL comes to a close the final posts are over to you.

AWF 2013Over to You – Polls, Testimonials and more.

Please could you leave a short statement in the comments, just a few sentences about what you have enjoyed over this weekend.

By commenting – you allow permission for us to use your words/ or part of – as testimonial quotations in advertising next year’s INKSPILL event.

And finally a poll…

Feel free to click as many answers as are relevant but only complete the POLL once. The Poll will be active for a week. Your feedback is important.

Many thanks bonfire2

INKSPILL – INKWELL – Session 3 Writing Comedy

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AWF circle Inkwell 3 – How to write Comedy – your questions answered.

This article was previously published on the blog. Again whilst trying to work on some comedy writing, I used my research to write a helpful ‘How to’ article. AWF circle

comedy writing tips

INKSPILL – How to Write a Short Story

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awf workshop How to Write Short Stories


Earlier on this year the Sunday Times ran their annual short story competition, I decided to enter. In the end I ran out of time and struggled to finish by the deadline.

However, along the way I completed lots of valuable research and wrote a couple of articles about writing short stories.

These posts have proved amongst the most popular on the whole blog, achieving daily viewing stats.

So here, on the final extra BONUS day of Inkspill is a link to the most popular writing article on my blog.

There is a link at the end for part 2.

writing short stories

narrative structure and the writing process

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INKSPILL – 10 Good Reasons to Write Short Stories

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AWF Speedwrite 10 Good Reasons to Write Short Stories


1 It’s fun.


2 It doesn’t take long.


3 Through the internet you can now find readers far more easily than a writer ever could before.


4 Modern printing technology means that you can, if you wish, publish your own work in printed form at dramatically

less expense than you could even five years ago.


5 If you have ambitions to be a novelist or a screenwriter, learning to master the short-story form will be excellent



6 If you do manage to get published in one of the small magazines, you may be approached by a literary agent. This

is, believe me, a far more effective method of making contact with them than writing to them direct.


7 There are numerous competitions for short-story writers, some of which offer substantial prizes and have

some standing in the literary world.


8 A short story can be about absolutely anythingIt can be set in this world or the next, or on a planet ten light-years

away; the chief character can be a contemporary Englishman or a prehistoric dinosaur; the ending can be tragic,

comic, or anything in between. In other words, the author of a short story enjoys total freedom in the choice of

subject matter, setting, timescale, final effect, and any other factor that you care to mention. You don’t have to

take orders from an editor, producer, or director.


9 If you have a yearning to perform on a public stage, you can give readings of your work.


10 To make a start, you really don’t need anything more than a pad of paper and few pens. Although, these days,

access to a computer and some technical skill with same is going to be a great asset.


Three Basic Requirements


In order to write short stories you need a minimum of three things:


1 Materials. This means that you need some story ideas – something to write about.

2 Technique – a method of converting the original idea, or inspiration, into a story.

3 A facility with words. In short, you need to be able to write effective English prose.

motivate write do