Category Archives: Writing

INKSPILL 2018 CONTOUR Poetry Magazine Issue 4 COMING SOON

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We hope you have enjoyed the INKSPILL weekend.

During my time as worcestershire Poet Laureate I created Contour – A Poetry Magazine. The launch of this issue was hoped to be our final post for INKSPILL 2018*.  Here I was to invite you to curl up with a warm drink and experience the world of poetry and all things poetical in the latest issue of CONTOUR.

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*However, the issue is not ready to go live (in case you missed the post I have had an operation) and this has set me back/time online not possible etc. This issue will go live very soon and I will post on the blog to promote it when it does.

Until then I can share some news and the previous issues of Contour for you to enjoy.

Inkspill news

My Laureateship ended in June 2018 but I have decided to continue with Contour.

It will now be an annual publication released as the final event of INKSPILL weekend. Submissions will open in July 2019, keep your eye on A Writers Fountain for more details.

LINKS:

SPECIAL EDITION ISSUE 3 A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Transatlantic Poetry Project as featured in Poetry Society Poetry News.

 

ISSUE 2 CONTOUR LOVE

 

ISSUE 1 CONTOUR PLACE

 

INKSPILL 2018 Feature – Interview with Alison May ALL THAT WAS LOST

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2018 VERSION GUEST POETS TO USE

Alison May (2)

What inspired you to write All That Was Lost?

All That Was Lost is an idea that I’ve had on the back burner for a long time now. I started writing a rom com about a stage medium years ago, but the subject matter was pulling the story in a darker direction. And my rom com heroine had a mother, who was also a medium, and had been in the business for years and years. She was a total pro at what she did. And that character seemed so much more interesting than my twenty-something main character. So the rom com (and the daughter) got ditched and I put my old pro centre stage, where she belongs.

 

Patrice isn’t a classic heroine. What drew you to that character?

I’m fascinated by the question of to what extent our personalities are formed by our upbringing and to what extent we get to choose who we are.
Patrice is an extreme example of that. It seems that she’s based her whole life on a lie – what does that do to a person over fifty years? Does the lie become truer because someone sells it hard enough?
I was also really excited to write a slightly older heroine than I’ve written in the past. Patrice has decades of good and bad experiences that colour every decision she makes. I think we often cast older women as supporting characters – someone’s mum (as Patrice started out!), someone’s grandmother, someone’s wife – so putting all the complexity that Patrice has built up over her life at the heart of a story felt good.

What are your top tips for new writers trying to write or publish their first novel?

Just write the sodding book. That is always the top piece of advice. There’s lots of stuff you can learn and develop in terms of craft and understanding story structure, but none of that will help you if you don’t get some words down on the page.
Following on from that, listen to advice, but make your own decisions. There are a lot of writing tutors and consultancy services out there – I’m one of them – but what none of those people can do for you is find your voice and work out what sort of stories you want to tell. That has to come from you, so don’t let all the advice that’s out there overwhelm who you want to be as a writer.

 

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INKSPILL 2018 Feature – All That Was Lost By Alison May

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2018 VERSION GUEST POETS TO USE

Alison May was a Guest Writer for INKSPILL back in 2015. We are delighted that this September Alison launched her latest novel ‘ALL THAT WAS LOST’. This afternoon we are happily featuring Alison May and her new book on INKSPILL.

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Author bio

Alison is a novelist, short story writer, blogger and creative writing tutor who grew up in North Yorkshire, and now lives in Worcester. She has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, a freelance trainer, and now a maker-upper of stories.

Alison won the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012, and her short stories have been published by Harlequin, Choc Lit and Black Pear Press.

Alison has also been shortlisted in the Love Stories and RoNA Awards.

Alison writes emotional fiction, and her seventh book, All That Was Lost, was published by Legend Press in September 2018.

She also writes modern retellings of misunderstood classics, in collaboration with Janet Gover, under the penname Juliet Bell. Alison is currently Vice-Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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You can find out more about Alison on her website: www.alison-may.co.uk, by following her on Twitter or Instagram @MsAlisonMay or on her facebook page: www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor/

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‘Intriguing with a cast of complex characters that keep you fascinated, this is a page-turner and surprisingly tender’ Katie FForde

‘A resonant, emotional story about grief, loss and love with a complex, tragic heroine—a fake psychic reaching the end of her career. Although it’s about death, this story is never depressing, and ultimately it’s about recovery and healing’ Julie Cohen

‘A beautiful and compelling story that delves into what is real, what we are willing to believe and the power of grief’ Liz Fenwick

‘”All That is Lost” is a bold, beautiful thought-provoking novel, that sensitively confronts difficult themes’ Rowan Coleman

‘It is a triumph. What Alison May has produced is an intimate and affecting study of loss, grief and identity that is just wonderful.’ Linda’s Book Bag

‘What an interesting and unique book… a fascinating, at times heart-wrenching, look at secrets, the cost of keeping them hidden, and whether hiding them requires lies.’ Fireflies and Free Kicks

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Workshop with Kevin Brooke – The Sealed Envelope

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This workshop was devised with Young Writer’s in mind… we were all young once upon a time and still are at heart… so give it a go. 

Guest Writer Workshop with Kevin Brooke 

The Sealed Envelope

Young Writer’s Workshop on the theme of A Sealed Envelope with the story to be written in approximately 300 words

In giving advice to a writer, J K Rowling has been quoted as saying “Write the story as well as you can, revise it, refine it, and if it still seems alive to you, you’re done”.

The items each student requires are to complete the workshop are – a pen, some paper and an imagination.

The Workshop begins with each student being handed a sealed envelope

Please don’t open this as yet, because this is crucial in the creation of your story. All you need to do to begin with, is think about what is inside the envelope. Write down a few ideas of what it could be, for example, a letter, pictures, symbols, something else?

Character Creation

Now that you have some idea of what’s inside, I want you to think about who or what would send it to you? Try and picture them, imagine what they’d look like. Are they young / old / a boy / a girl / an alien / a Vampire / a goblin?

If you are struggling, have a look around the room to see if there is something that catches your eye or inspires you. If you are in a library, have a look at some of the books on the shelves and focus on what you can see on the front covers / internal illustrations.

Plot creation

Now that you have a picture of what is inside the envelope and who may have sent it, try to think of a reason why? For example, is it a threat, a wish of goodwill, a symbol of hope / disaster or a cry for help or even a goodbye?

Setting creation

Now we have a character and a reason why the envelope has been sent. The next stage is to try and imagine where they were when they sent it. Were they on the beach, on the moon, hidden in a wardrobe, inside a dungeon? Draw some pictures if this helps.

The Resolution

The story you have written so far should tell you whether it will be a happy ending, an open ending, or a sad / violent ending…read the story, think about the character, the setting. Read it through your notes several times – the ending is there if you think about it. The most important aspect is that the resolution must be based on how you think the story should end.

How? First of all, don’t forget the basic checklist

  • 300 words isn’t many. Try to keep characters to a minimum – maybe one main character and a maximum of two others.
  • Use dialogue if you can as this brings the characters alive.
  • Try not to use too many adverbs i.e. words ending in ‘ly’. If the man is tall, we don’t need to know he is really tall. Tall is usually enough.
  • Try to be specific i.e. instead of ‘she ate a pizza’ maybe think of the ingredients i.e. ‘spicy pepperoni with mushrooms’. In this way, the reader not only knows the details of what is on the pizza, they gain a sense of taste.
  • Avoid clichés – one way of doing this by using Imagery. As Stephen King is quoted as saying “see everything before you write it”. Try, therefore, to visualise every sentence you write and then write what you see.
  • Another way of bringing your story alive is by experiencing what your character is experiencing. If they go into a forest, do this for yourself, make some notes on what you saw, felt, heard or smelt and use these in your story.

Reading your work aloud

I’m a great believer in the notion that story telling is best told live. It provides the storyteller with a few, powerful minutes to take us to their alternative world, wherever it may be. In addition, if you are reading to others, listen to their feedback – they might tell you something you hadn’t considered, but something that could transform the entire story.

 

INKSPILL 2018 ARCHIVES Open

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Yesterday we opened the Archive and shared some posts from previous years of INKSPILL. Today the Archive opens once more – an offering from 2015 a workshop on Creating Characters by me, Nina Lewis.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/inkspill-workshop-2-creating-characters/

 

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Kevin Brooke Interview

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INKSPILL GUESTS Kevin

Kevin Brooke talks to us about writing, research and relaxation. Links have been included, you can also find Kevin’s books in our INKSPILL BOOKSHOP.

1. What are your ambitions for your writing career?

My main focus as a writer for young people is to publish as many books of the right standard as I can. In doing so, it will allow me to contact local schools and speak to young people with the aim of encouraging reading and writing. As someone who didn’t start reading for pleasure until I was about 25, this is particularly important to me and tend to write stories that are accessible for all. I also concentrate on stories of the type I would have liked to have read when I was younger and base my characters on two demographics i.e. 7-11 and 11-15. For me, these are such crucial ages of development for young people and I therefore focus on themes that are suitable for these age groups.

 

2. So, what have you written?

My first book, The Roman Citizens from Class 6B was utilised as a resource in a primary school in Malvern in 2016.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Citizens-Class-6B/dp/1291271511

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I regularly use my second book, a Young Adult novel, Jimmy Cricket, as a resource to encourage reading in schools (I am currently Patron of Reading at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester).

https://blackpear.net/authors-and-books/kevin-brooke/jimmy-cricket/

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I have added this in, as Kevin is too humble… In 2015 Jimmy Cricket was studied in school in AustriaInternational Success

I am hoping that my third book, Max & Luchia: The Game Makers (aimed at 7-11 years), will be just as successful.

https://blackpear.net/2018/08/14/max-luchia-the-game-makers/

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I’ve had approximately 35 short stories published in various publications that include Short Stories From Black Pear, in Graffiti Magazine, as a member of Worcester Writers’ Circle, in WorcesterLitfest Flash Fiction collections, University of Worcester magazines and WWI remembrance publications.

A full list of publications can be found at www.kevinbrooke.com

I often enter short story competition and was awarded first prize in the Erewash National Short Story Competition in 2014 and the Kishboo Magazine Spring Competition in 2016. Several runners up prizes, a number of commended and highly commended awards have also led to publication in competition anthologies.

Although I don’t consider myself as a poet as such, I do write poetry and publications include Contour Magazine (as organised by former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Nina Lewis), on the Goodhadhood website, WorcesterLitfest publications and several collections aimed at Young People.

3. How much research do you do?

I’ve just finished a degree in Creative & Professional Writing and English Literature at the University of Worcester and one of the main things I’ve learnt is the need for proper research. Although I’d always researched in the past, I tended not to delve as much as I do now. This includes the need for visiting the place I am writing about as experiential research, to fully utilise the five senses. For example, I recently wrote a short story about a protagonist who headed into a dark forest and replicated their situation by going to a nearby wood and turning off the torch. The results of taking shorter steps as I walked, holding my arms out in front of me and a general sense of disorientation were then utilised in the story. In my opinion, people observation in cafes, bars, train stations etc. is also crucial to pick up on individual mannerisms and to create genuine dialogue. As a writer for Young People, I also try and read as many modern stories as I can to enable me to gain a general sense of what is popular at the time of writing a story.

4. What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Max & Luchia: The Game Makers, is based on a young person’s imagination. The two main characters create a world in their minds and then, after doing something special to help other people, they are given the chance to play the game they’ve created for real. The hardest aspect, therefore, was creating something a 7-11 year old would be inspired by. Fortunately, I carry out a number of creative writing workshops with young people and this gave me a sense of the fairy-tale, mythical world they created in their stories. After that, it was about creating the imagery that a child would relate to. For example, instead of an adult description based on feelings to describe “a beautiful night’s sky” I tried to use clearer, descriptive phrases such as the one I heard an 8 year old use about the sky being “filled with a thousand stars”.

5. Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

In giving advice to a writer, J K Rowling has been quoted as saying “Write the story as well as you can, revise it, refine it, and if it still seems alive to you, you’re done” and I tend to offer this advice creative workshops for young people. For me, if this means leaving gaps between revisions to ensure the story has had chance to grow then so be it. I wouldn’t particularly use the time-span of one month, but enough time for a few ideas to develop or for external influences to enter the story.

6. Any tips on what to do and what not to do?

If you are going to write a children’s story, make it current. Winnie the Pooh was successful in 1926 because of the world in which it was set, but if you’re going to write a children’s story now, read a few that are fast-paced, modern and relevant to young people today. I made this mistake and spent an entire year writing a story that I wanted to read as an adult. The agents and publishers who rejected it (and these are the kind ones that replied) said, in a nutshell, “Go away and read some children’s stories that have been written in the last ten years.” They were right.

7. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Although I use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, the aim is always to direct people back to my website www.kevinbrooke.com

8. What do you do to relax?

I am a member of a local contemporary choir called Voices Unlimited. The photograph I have used for this (taken by nature, landscape an event photographer, Jodie Stilgoe) is from a show entitled ‘Welcome to the 60s’ in which I played Davy Jones at The Swan Theatre in September 2018. I also use this photo (and similar) for marketing purposes and send it to schools to introduce myself as someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously. As for singing itself, as well as being therapeutic, I find there is something in its very act of self-expression that helps with my writing.

INKSPILL 2018 Writing Activity Jigsaw

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For this writing activity you will need an old magazine. If you do not have an old magazine available you can use the images at the end of this post, just close your eyes and hover your cursor across the screen at random.

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  • Look through the magazine and cut out interesting words, phrases and images.
  • Place them in a bowl, close your eyes and pull out two of these magazine snippets.
  • Write a Flash Fiction 300 words max. or a poem if you prefer.
  • Repeat until tired.

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For those with no spare paper magazines use the area below.

 

 

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Picture Prompts

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This morning’s picture prompts have been gathered under Creative Commons license from Wikimedia Commons.

Choose a picture and start writing – see where it takes you.

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A view of the interior of Nasir ol Molk Mosque located in Shiraz, Iran. The mosque includes extensive colored glass in its facade that makes beautiful colors when light is passed through it and is reflected on the carpets.
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Three Parisian women watching the solar eclipse of 8 April 1921 on the Cour du Havre, next to the gare Saint-Lazare.

 

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“Airborne” by Christopher Klein, an art installation representing a gas molecule. Built in 2008 for The Linde Group’s headquarters, the Angerhof, in Munich.

 

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High diver Beatrice Kyle, standing by the wheel of fire engine, in high driving outfit, holding a pickle, between acts at the Society Circus at Fort Myer, Virginia; for the benefit of the Army Relief Fund; Apr. 25, 1924.

INKSPILL 2018 Programme Day 2

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SUNDAY 28th OCTOBER

DAY 2: Welcome back to Day 2 of INKSPILL. Are you feeling a little exhausted after yesterday? If so our gentle Sunday morning is the perfect way to ease you in to another day of all things wordy.

Meditation, Writing Activities, Interviews, Videos, Extracts, Book Promotions, Workshops and the launch of ISSUE 4 of Contour Poetry Magazine.

Enjoy!

 

9 AM Short Guided Meditation

Join us to focus your mind for another exciting day in INKSPILL.

 

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9:30 AM Writing Activity Picture Prompts

Have a go at this interesting activity. See where your writing takes you.

 

10 AM Writing Activity Jigsaw Story

Another fun idea to create writing that may otherwise not exist.

 

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10:30 AM Guest Writer Kevin Brooke

Find out more about our 3rd Guest Writer.

10:35 AM Guest Writer Kevin Brooke  Interview

Insights into the writing process and daily life as a writer.

 

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11:00 AM Bookshop Open NEW STOCK

Find books by Kevin Brooke stocked on our virtual shelves.

 

11:15 AM Guest Writer Kevin Brooke – reading an extract from Jimmy Cricket

Sit back, relax and listen to an extract from Kevin’s YA Novel.

 

11:30 AM INKSPILL ARCHIVE Open

Delve into a workshop from INKSPILL 2015.


Make sure you break for Lunch – we will be back at 1 PM.

 


1:00 PM Guest Writer Workshop with Kevin Brooke – The Sealed Envelope

Have a go at this Workshop brought to you by our Guest Writer Kevin Brooke.

 

2:00 PM Featured Writer Alison May All That Was Lost

Alison May was a Guest Writer for INKSPILL in 2015, we are delighted this year she is our featured writer. Find out more about Alison and her latest book.

 

2:30 PM Interview with Alison May about her latest novel All That Was Lost

Featured Writer Alison May reveals a little about her latest novel and being a writer.

 

3:00 PM Bookshop Open NEW STOCK

The doors to a fully stocked shop are now open, All That Was Lost has been added to our shelves.

4:00 PM INKSPILL ARCHIVE Open

Delve into posts from previous INKSPILL retreats and more.

8:30 PM Launch Contour Poetry Magazine Issue 4 and plans for 2019

Please note change in programme explained on  this post. The launch of Issue 4 has unfortunately been delayed. Here you will find links to the first 3 issues of the magazine and news about future opportunities.

Happy reading!

 

9 PM Feedback and Thanks

Let us know how you enjoyed the weekend of writing.

 

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Kate Garrett Bonnie’s Crew

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This year Kate Garrett embarked on a new project Bonnie’s Crew. Kate tells us more about this in our final interview.

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1) Can you tell us a little background on Bonnie’s Crew?

Bonnie’s Crew was originally just going to be a little A6 print anthology, put together from work sent in by my friends in the poetry community, and sold via JustGiving to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. Leeds Congenital Hearts – which is funded by the CHSF – saved my daughter Bonnie’s life when she was born, but they did it without surgery (so far – she does have a condition that often requires surgery later in life). Other babies, children, teens, and adults need the unit’s help in much more complex ways. Our time on Ward L51 opened my eyes to congenital heart disease and made me want to do something to help.

 

2) At what point did you realise poetry was your way of giving back?

Almost immediately – it’s where my own heart lies (aside from my family unit of course, but even then my husband and closest friends are poets too!), and poetry is where my people are, where the community is for me.

 

3) Please tell us about the Bonnie’s Crew anthology and webzine.

The Bonnie’s Crew anthology is fiftyish pages of poems, mostly by poets in the UK, printed in A6 size with beautiful original cover art by Marija Smits. The poems range from those written just for Bonnie to suitable reprints, and everything in between.

The webzine has become far wider-reaching – poets from all over the world submit to Bonnie’s Crew! For both mediums, I wanted poems touching on hearts and hope, above all else, but also hospital experiences, grief, loss, love (romantic or otherwise) – as these are all very universal things, we all have a body, we all have emotions, and when we experience health issues, or loss, or family problems, or anything that moves us deeply, it’s good to have a place to express those things and find solace in other stories.

Sometimes our poems are inspired by news articles that aren’t even about human beings, but are relevant to our moral dilemmas (I’m thinking of Jude Cowan Montague’s brilliant ‘the sadness of the experiment’ https://bonnieandcrew.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/poem-the-sadness-of-the-experiment-by-jude-cowan-montague), and sometimes the poets themselves have been in hospital for heart conditions. It varies, but the writing is always beautiful.

We currently publish two poets a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but from February 2019 we will be publishing in a web journal format every other month. BC #1 will be released on 9th February – and there’s still space for more work. To read what we’ve published so far, and to submit your own work, visit http://bonnieandcrew.wordpress.com

4) How many poems have been published on the zine?

I’m not exactly sure! Over 150, or around that… at the time of answering these questions there have been 105 posts published or scheduled, and quite a few of those include multiple poems. We’ve been publishing since the first week of February 2018.

 

5) How did it feel to hit your fundraising target?

Amazing, unbelievable. And I was so moved by the fact that through poetry we were able to raise over £1,000 in 6 months. We’re still going, and still have anthologies left to send out, so if people are interested, our JustGiving page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bonnieandcrew and if people would like an anthology after donating (£5 minimum for a book, but even a £1 donation helps!), please email me at bonnies.crew.poems@gmail.com. I’d love to raise £2,000 by the time Bonnie turns one in January, or at least by the time the print anthology turns one in May.

6) When did you decide to include visual art?

When I decided to change to a bi-monthly web journal format. Our webzine has been characterised by me pairing public domain images with the poems we publish, and people always remark on the lovely combinations. I’d like to carry on the visual aspect when we change to releasing work in issues, but I wanted the art to come from submissions instead of public domain resources.

7) What have you enjoyed most about this project?

What haven’t I enjoyed! It’s honestly the most rewarding bit of editing and publishing I’ve ever done. If I had to stop editing/publishing everything else tomorrow, I would not be able to put Bonnie’s Crew down. It’s made such a difference to people, not just the heart unit, but regular people who come across the poems and feel soothed by reading them.

 

8)What is the future for this project?

Well, as I say, I’d love to raise more money (which means selling the remaining anthologies), hold an event in Leeds with readings, and see where the new web journal format takes us. I’m accepting creative nonfiction articles and essays now as well, alongside the poetry and visual art. Bonnie’s Crew’s tagline has always been ‘poems helping hearts of all sizes’ and it’s grown to helping hearts in both literal and figurative ways. It would be lovely to keep that momentum going and reach even more people.

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