Tag Archives: Bangor Cellar Writing Group


While journey can have many connotations, and since I was on a train recently returning from North Wales, then journey is apt, here I refer specifically to your writer’s journey.

If you’re new to writing or much further along the path, I still think you can gain a lot from listening to other writers; especially writers who are where you want to be.

As part of the Essex Book Festival I’m off to see writer, Simon Toyne, at Canvey Library this evening. He is a new writer to me but his books look appealing and come highly recommended; so I have ordered the first in his trilogy Sanctus. Tonight he talks about his latest Solomon Creed. But what I am particularly interested in, in his journey. How he got to be successful, published by Harper  Collins, found his agent etc. And how he writes!

Look him up here:  http://www.simontoyne.net/

I will report back about it tomorrow. But do look in your local area for festival news and if you can, pop along and listen. You will be grateful for the support when one day that’s you up there.

Well, on another note I am back after a lovely week of catching up with many writers in North Wales. I also attended a very interesting meeting of the Bangor Cellar Writing Group and have to say, the talk James Phillips gave on public speaking and in particular reading your work was so so useful. Made me wonder, after all this time, why no one had given us, as writers, such a talk before. I will be blogging all about that as well.

But here I am back where I belong, ready to get writing and see what my characters have been up to at the allotment in my absence… so harmony in the universe has now been restored!

Happy Writing All!

Happy WriterPicture borrowed from: LINK

Be a happy writer! It’s Monday!


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Being in a Writing Group

The message is short and sweet.

Later on I will be on the Tony Fisher Show on BBC Radio Essex just after 3 talking about the new writing group I am starting up on Canvey Island and I have had a few enquiries already!!! I think we will at least have a respectable 7 or 8 but with posters now distributed and press releases out and the radio interview imminent I hope to have more!

So excited there are people interested!

Being in a group like this it’s important to establish the ground rules early on, leave your ego at the door; this is a  community whose mission statement is to ‘Nurture and support local writers of all levels and who write for all reasons to achieve their own success; be that publication, winning competitions or simply for the love of writing.’

Because the Bangor group was so successful and the format seemed to work then I will use this to start us off and then hope, as it is about being a community, that it will morph and develop as we go. By writers for writers: a democracy.

I do know that some groups make people submit work and they can only join on approval; they limit numbers, they want people to write certain things and they can be a little snobby  — now selection might work for critique groups when a group benefits most from the bringing together of similar standards, perhaps one or two with more experience to guide it in the right direction but that choice is for progress but certainly you need to support all levels as far as I’m concerned. We are a community! We are inclusive; hence why I wanted it to be in the evening for those unable to attend the day time on  Canvey. Together we should have it covered!

So below is the link to BBC Radio Essex where I will be discussing the group from 3 onwards and also a poster if you do know anyone locally! If you do, please share!

Have a great day all!

BBC Radio Essex

Canvey Writers

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Tapping into the Universal: Child Missing

I watched the new BBC drama last night Missing, anyone see it? A child goes missing while people are distracted, in this case watching the football, and he is still missing 8 years on. Good premise, she says with a smirk, I might know a novel that uses that device. What? Not read my novel yet? But, and here’s my point, won’t be the first, won’t be the last.

I really enjoyed this and look forward to next week: good writing, good acting and I am not a huge fan of the crime series I see on the TV, although the Beeb often get it right. But the point that I am making is there are only so many themes can be explored in our literature and in our TV shows. We talk in industry about high concept, something I have talked about here before and this is one of those concepts — something universal, it has the intrigue that will appeal to the masses. Oddly this idea of missing, also used a lot in stories, seems to be a theme I have explored in different guises in at least three novels and for sure in a way in short stories although often missing in these contexts might mean something more metaphorical.

In While No One Was Watching clearly the theme is that of a child went missing, at the same time President Kennedy was assassinated, and is never found — or is she? So very much this idea of the horrors of a child missing, every parents’ nightmare, is explored. The theme being what happens when you turn your back for a second. Also explored in the current scenes with the classroom shooting in the novel. So all big themes but universal, right?

In I Am Wolf Amy is missing. But she’s a reporter, not a child and she is missing in the wilds of Alaska, possibly misadventure or maybe it’s something more. But while this drives the actions of her ex-lover who leaves his life in New York behind to come to Alaska to look for her, the premise and the theme is very different. This novel is about identity, and the feral child and Amy’s obsession with wolves a huge part of it. But I hope it also has something that has universal connection — but in a different way. Who has not wondered about walking out of their life?

Isle of Pelicans returns to a missing child, but handled in a totally different way to Eleanor Boone.  Eight-year-old Tommy is gone, his mother dead, a country singer whose body is found in Golden Gate Park. But where is her son? It’s a hight profile case, one suspect, but he’s an old man and he’s dying. Enter our unwitting, ex-con Frank, affectionately known (to me anyway) as the reluctant clairvoyant  who knows about the kid long before he goes missing. This one is pacey, contemporary and has a ticking clock, where is the kid? But with no real leads, only Frank and his college side-kick, and a bad case of cross wires, will he be found?

So you see how this theme of missing is used in my writing but in very different ways, I hope anyway.

I loved Gone Girl, yet to see the movie though.

These themes of lost or missing are huge and think how many times you have seen them used. But like so many other themes we return to, and this notion there are only seven basic plots — it doesn’t matter. Do it well, own it, make it unique and you have something.

And right now I have to now return to the exciting climactic scenes in Isle of Pelicans to see if they find Tommy …

Have a great day! Don’t get wet! Unless you want to!

And good luck to my old writing group in Bangor who celebrate with a showcase of readings tonight — so if you’re in the area, do go along! Wish I could be there!

Showcase Poster BCWG 2014

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The Like-minded

I have said many times on here, and with good reason, that being part of a writing group and actually also a book club, back when I was coming out of the darkness of grief, quite literally saved me. In Bangor Mary at the time ran both the Paperwings Book Club and the Bangor Cellar Writing Group, I later went on to run the writing group and as time permitted dipped in and out of the book club. What being in a book club/reading group did was diversify my reading and allow a forum for open discussion. In fact while I rarely made it to meetings in the end, a lot to do with work and having to travel into Bangor, I did still keep reading lots, including books outside my genre.

So, I decided at the weekend that if I am to become embroiled in all things literary, the very things that made my life in Bangor such a dream and  gave me lasting and wonderful friendships, I have joined a book club here on Canvey — and of course plan to start the writing group in the new year.

It seems the only book clubs I found meet in the day time at the library, but since I don’t want to start a book club as well, decided it’s only two hours a month — so why not?

I do think, as writers, where the process can be isolating, these activities are great. It amazed me actually how few members of the writing group in Bangor were also part of the book club, when it’s invaluable for opening the writer up to a whole different group of books and helps you see how the reader thinks. In fact I talked about this very thing on BBC Radio Kent a couple of weeks back.

So, anyone out there looking to diversify their reading, make new friends, even deal with the gaping wound left by grief, you could do worse than join a book club — or for that matter a writing group. Check out what’s in your local area.

The first book for November’s meeting is: If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor, so I will also use my blog if there are any books I think worth sharing with you all. Or why not read along with me? I am sure your libraries will have copies? Ours only had a few so I managed to pick up a copy for just over £2 (a penny but that was postage for the hardback!) on Amazon. And I have managed to persuade my mum to read it too and come to the meeting!

Let me know if anyone else is in a book club or wants to read along and post your comments here!

Who says the world has to be a small place?

If Nobody speaks...

Have a great day everyone!

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Some things you can take with you…

Last night was Bangor Cellar Writing Group’s monthly meeting and I worked out I probably only missed three meetings in the seven and a half years I was a member and Chair for three of those years. I had such a wonderful send-off last week I was bowled over. There are some bad groups I know, but NOT this one. This one saved me and I am going to miss it and the friendships that formed because of it. I was thinking last night, how I wasn’t there, and I am itching to get the Canvey group established in January. If anyone reads this who might be interested then please email me so I can add you to the list to email when we have more details. I have a venue, just need to work out when we’ll meet, once a month in the evenings in St Nicholas Church, one of their meeting rooms. So message or inbox me.

So, there is this saying that some things you can’t take with you, but if you are being true to yourself and doing what you love, it is with you wherever you go, right? I had my first full day writing and working in my new office in my nice comfy chair yesterday and I felt so so at home. Just me, somewhere else.

This morning I have to go and get nails done as I have the opening of the Short Story Prize in London later, so I will work but it’s not quite a usual day. But never the less a writerly one!

While my new life is different,different surroundings, I am the same me.

Do what you loveAlways be yourself

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Back at my desk …

It’s been a lovely little break away for me — a rare one too! I had to work like crazy to be able to have it, but worth it in the end! And now here I am back at my desk, raring to write although I find myself with a stack of admin to sort! I am also aware I have been tagged in a couple of blog hops that I have yet to post here but I will, just perhaps not in the requested time frame. I will though! Honest!

I also have a number of talented writer guests lined up for In The Spotlight, including talented children’s writer Pauline Burgess and well-known thriller writer R J Ellory! And some others! I also want to tell you more about Sharon Zink’s debut novel and the book launch that took me to Brighton this past weekend. So bear with me — it’s all to come!

I also want to remind those in or near Chester that my signing in THIS Saturday! Woo hoo! Come along or do tell you friends! I know some of my writing group are coming along in support!

I will also be running a day-long workshop in Bangor on Saturday August 2nd (probably will be £20) getting up close and personal to your writing style — how to look at your own work critically to improve your writing and some tips on the submission  process and the publishing process itself. While the intention is to release the information mostly for the Bangor Cellar Writing Group and the Anglesey Group, if anyone else is interested let me know!

I am also looking forward to running a taster workshop/author talk to some Anglesey writers next week!

It’s all go!

So lots to come …

Have a great day everyone!

Chester Poster


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Supporting the local bookshop

Well last night I was at a lovely new bookshop in Conwy called Hinton’s! They have a lovely space downstairs, perfect for readings, Q & A and signings as I did last night. And what a lovely welcome I had. I meant to get someone to take photos but sadly got caught up in it all so never did.

We had a small gathering and so, much like the library event last week, talked about  my journey, the inspiration for writing the novel, voice, connection and so on. I read some pieces and then asked a few questions. It was all very well received I think.

It still feels odd to be sat there upfront and slightly strange as if about to make a performance which I guess in a way I am. But what strikes me is I have no nerves. I guess these are my characters and this is the story I want to show the world, so why would I be nervous and with 19 five-star reviews now at least it seems most people are loving it! HUGE phew there then!

So settling down to write and finish a manuscript appraisal today before the Bangor Cellar Writing Group’s annual Christmas dinner tonight.

I do have some photos of the library to share soon as well as the launch, just not around to sorting them yet!

Also writerly friends, you may have seen I am doing an advent calendar of stories on CafeLit and as we draw nearer to Christmas I need more stories, flash pieces of about 100 words please? I assign them all a gift or attribute as well, like magic, surprise, excess etc so think about that as well.

Here’s the link:  http://www.cafelit.co.uk/

Cute cockers



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