Charity Showcase Event!

Sorry I did not post this as intended on Friday, the morning ran away with itself and I was away this weekend and only came home yesterday afternoon!

As you know I run the Canvey Writers St Nicholas Group and this year (our third year) we decided to use my role at Bridge House to publish a collection of your stories and poems. This prompted us to set up a critique group so we could ensure these were of the best quality possible.

Well, that collection, now aptly called Tales from the upper room is set for release next month and we celebrate that with our special event on Canvey Island!

The profits from the book as well as ALL proceeds from the evening go to Havens Hospices that support terminally ill and life-limited adults and children in the local area.

Why not come along if you’re local?

It is £2 on the door which includes drink and nibbles! However, because the church is limited for spaces then you need to download your free eTickets first and then pay when you come!

 

Here is the link! Poster to follow soon!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/canvey-writers-book-launchcharity-event-for-havens-hospices-tickets-38721127936

 

Please do let people know!!!

perf5.500x8.500.inddComing soon… to Amazon!

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The Power of a Story

I was going to tell you about our book launch event next month but I will share those details with you tomorrow. Instead I thought I would talk to you about how stories enter our lives and the power of those stories.

Why do you write? Or perhaps you’re a reader, then what makes a story really live inside your head?

I love stories, but not just the ones we write: the ones we live, watch, read. Last night we finally got to watch the movie, Lion. Anyone seen it? It’s on Amazon Prime right now.

I didn’t know too much about this so was drawn into the storytelling; not even aware why it was called Lion, if you don’t know then watch the movie or read the book. It is based on a true story by  Saroo Brierley called A Long Way Home. I loved this, so much, and think this is the kind of story that captures the power of moments. It’s about a child who is lost. He gets on a train and travels for days. He has no idea where he came from and says the name of his home village all wrong so can’t find home, or his mother and brother.

This really hit something primordial inside me and as we see how this affected him and the path he was then on, adopted in Australia, the path eventually must lead home. It takes twenty-five years.

Why does this story work? Because of that tapping into something inside of us all. We connect to this feeling of being lost; all of us in one way or another. We imagine how we might feel if that happened to us.

It’s powerful storytelling but not overstated. I was crying, yep I was moved.

 

If you get the chance look at the arc of this story and how it unfolds. The conflict is established early, we connect to this child. We fear for him and we go on this journey with him that takes him further and further from home. We know all along that somehow to resolve this he must one day go back. But how that happens and is brought about is just great.

I love the kinds of stories that live in my head long after the final credits. I love the kinds of stories that I know have, somehow, in some way, changed me. 

And that is why I write. 

What makes this more powerful is it really happened.

Lion

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This

This

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October 11, 2017 · 5:55 am

A New Week

Nothing profound to talk to you about this morning. Just me sat in quiet reflection as we start another week. Work has taken a front seat these past few weeks so the writing has had a little rest. Once I’ve been to my early morning training at the gym, leaving soon for my in the dark cycle, then I intend to write 🙂 I have had all kinds of ideas floating past me in my ‘busyness’ and so now it’s time to give in to it, yay!

We have writing group this evening where we will sort out things to do with our anthology and launch now only six weeks ago! Yikes! I will be sharing the link and the details here very soon!

So all that remains is to bid you a wonderful exciting week…

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Choose wisely…

There was a time, as I was learning my craft (still am!) through my copious short story writing — when I was sending short stories to as many places as I could. I choose places where there is some prestige in being placed or, and better, the stories are published. To me, if you write, you want it read by as many as possible, right?

One of the competition placements I had was with a company that I did not realise had such a terrible reputation, and to my knowledge no longer exists. I waited some three years for the winner’s anthology, and in the meantime had to fix some terrible editing done by the same company for clients who came in and asked for help! Really. I have to say I was getting agitated about whether my story would ever be in print when that happened. It was — finally. It was in a book with an appalling green cover, no ISBN, you could only get it from the company and for a small thin paperback, they wanted £12,  no contributor’s copy! Now it doesn’t worry me not getting a free copy as I know how hard it is to even break even with small presses, but come on…£12! I know that would have cost £2/£3 at cost.

I still have the book and it has the oddest title but I doubt many people have it. I imagine lots of copies festering somewhere. So there is a message in here that if unsure do some checking on where you sending your money when you enter these things because many do charge a fee.

After all these years I have revisited that story and decided to put it into Canvey Writers Anthology ‘Tales from the Upper Room’ that Bridge House is publishing next month, so at least someone will finally read it!

So, I will share an extract of that one with you this morning…

 

Graffiti

The edges are blurred, the lines between dark and light ill-defined as if they’re folded together.

I watch a raindrop cross a dirty window, stare across grey rooftops, and I think how I hate Thursdays.

The world ended on a Thursday.

It’s easy to stare at nothing for too long. The randomness of lists on a fridge door: baked beans crossed off, shampoo underlined, the name of a play by an unknown writer we heard on Radio 4, and a magnetic memento of a day trip to Brighton when there were day trips to Brighton. It holds a photograph of you, aged fifteen. You can’t tell. You look like any normal kid.

No one ever knows how things will turn out.

 

Morning news claims rising costs of living and layoffs at factories. I picture Dad, proud in a neon vest and hard hat, reminiscences of his Health and Safety Days: the officer, the enforcer. Life defined by punching a time-clock. But look where it got him. Or didn’t get him.

“A good honest living,” he said. “None of that artsy fartsy nonsense.”

Of course he meant me, not you.

“You think you’ll make a living ACTING?” he said, his doubt booming across a newly fitted kitchen while Mum stirred stew with a wooden spoon and looked the other way. “Look at your brother, going to the polytechnic. A vocation is what you need. People always need civil engineers.”

You tried to tell him they always need actors too and what would he do without Bond – James Bond – on wet bank holiday Mondays? But all he did was laugh. You always made him laugh.

And the whole time Mum said nothing. You said some people keep things on the inside, because they don’t know how to say them.

I can still see our house in West Hampstead where we grew up, you and I. Mum would turn in her grave if she heard me: You and me. ME not I. What did she think would happen if I used the wrong word, did she think the world would end?

I picture our house, with its enduring scent of lemon polish. A brick fireplace where shiny porcelain shire horses pulled invisible carts. The Top Forty countdown on Sunday nights, all of us singing along to Brotherhood of Man, and Auntie Shelly saving all her kisses for outstayed welcomes because Dad made the mistake of boasting about having a spare room. And a car port.

What do I have?

Cups stained with the entrails of too much tea; splashes of milk spilled from recyclable plastic that I won’t recycle; toast crumbs scooped into a grey dishcloth moulded with the shape of my hand and chip fat splashes scarring the surface of a metal hob.

But it’s home. And at least I didn’t desert you when you needed me.

Sometimes I wonder where that place went. I imagine it’s behind a closed door that one day I’ll find, quite by chance. Maybe in Debenhams: a wrong door in the fitting rooms. And there you’ll be, as if you’ve always been there, and our lives have been playing out in parallel the whole time. Mum still baking butterfly cakes that she wheels out on a hostess trolley, Dad laughing at you doing those rancid impressions of David Bellamy while uprooting Mum’s rubber plant.

I think about that as I stand at the window, counting the lives on the other side where new memories are spun. You just never realise how fragile all the threads are.

© Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, Tales from the Upper Room, Bridge House Publishing, November 2017

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Short Journeys

I have talked about short stories before and how important they have been to me on this journey to become ‘real writer’… that makes me think of Pinocchio I want to be a real boy… 

I think, all too often, we tend to overlook the short story form, assuming that the real success and I guess therefore the real creativity and even the real money is to be made from the novel that becomes the bestseller that becomes the Hollywood blockbuster… and so on. But short stories have also been made into movies you know. And besides, not all short stories want to grow up to be movies, do they?

I always talk about how I ‘cut my teeth’ as a writer working on the short form, and how important this was for me in terms of developing my style and honing my craft and I have spurts now of still writing short stories and sending them out. When I did that earlier this year I had three successes and two of those placements has resulted in a publication; one of which is now available to pre-order, I was runner-up! So I thought I would share a short extract of that as a teaser with some links…

Thinking in Circles

In order to understand something, we must exist outside it.
We are all made of numbers.
Aged 13, Size 8 shoes, Form 5, the 14.35.
We are all on a journey to somewhere from somewhere else with
our eyes half-closed.
And sometimes we get stuck.

You are standing there. Head tucked down; reminds me of a
penguin. The strap of your big blue school bag cuts across your blazer
and it’s as if there’s a thread attaching your head to your shoes. Not
shiny new shoes. These are scuffed, end of term Clark’s one-size-too-small
shoes; they didn’t buy new shoes. Because of what happened
over the summer.
It’s the thing – the thing no one will want to talk about – but they
will talk about it. They’ll whisper. They’ll pretend they’re not talking
about it.
People say bad news is always better when it happens to
somebody else but even when it happens to somebody else,
sometimes it’s happening to you.
You shuffle last year’s shoes to the front; to the desk you used
last year. And the year before. And the year before that. Soon they’ll
all come in and sit where they always sit and nobody will ask. But
they’ll all know.

They’ll all know because it was in the Echo. It was in the Echo
over the summer. Shock had filled up the kitchen: a line of uttered
Oh Gods.
In the sound you were sure you heard something break.
Not like a snap. Not like an ornament shattering into a million
pieces. Not like that. And not like the jolt of something stopping
suddenly, because that happens all at once. This was like a slow
unpicking along the seams.
It happened because of what happened over the summer. It
happened to your dad when he went quietly mad and your nan had to
move in.
It was in the Echo. Everyone knows. About the thing – not your
dad going quietly mad, or your nan moving in. About the thing. The
thing that happened over the summer.

The train left London at 14.35. The name on the front said
Southend Victoria…

© Debz Hobbs-Wyatt 2017, With Our Eyes Open, Published by Bausse Books October 15 2017

The book is available now for pre-order as an eBook and a paper version will follow in tine for Christmas! I will share the link again!

With Our Eyes Open

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Ricochet

I was going to talk today about how news stories often became the idea for a short story… and then we have these tragic events in Vegas.

This seems to drive home another point about how we live our lives. When does this kind of hatred just become a normal part of living?

I have been listening today about gun culture and heated debates about the need to change laws that it seems no one wants to listen to.

I had a classroom shooting in my novel as some of you may know, and I was thinking about where that came from. I guess I was thinking about the kinds of news stories that shake the world and the frightening things that can really happen.

So I won’t post an extract of a story today; all I will do is sit for a moment in silence and think about the terrible thing that happened; and will continue to happen if we don’t try to do something about it.

That is all.

Have a peaceful day ❤

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