Tag Archives: CafeLit

Being The Writer

One of the things we writers have to work on is confidence when it comes to sharing our work. The first time I did this was at a writing group meeting. I had just joined the year or so after I lost Lee. So personally I have to say I was lacking in my usual drive and some of that came from grief. Some of that also came from never really knowing if the writing was any good. But in the end I did read out, I was receptive to feedback and that in the end led to success.

I think the first time I had to read at the launch of my first publishing success (Making Changes, Bridge House Publishing, 2008) I was pretty scared because now there were a lot more people than in the writing group meetings. But you know, only you know how your work should really sound and therefore you know how it ought to be read.

The more successes I had, the more I was able to share and read my work until that day when my novel was launched and there was I having to read (just me in the spotlight) and in an African Amercian accent don’t ya know! Now I do enjoy reading and have done so many times and with a microphone! The more we do it, the easier it becomes. But I know one or two writers who still suffer with nerves, but they are also at the beginning of the journey and it will get better 🙂

So let me share some photos of the fab writers who read from Baubles and The Best of CafeLit at the launch in London this past Saturday… and brilliant they all were… I have not used the word brilliant for a long time I have to say!!!


Gallery… not in the order they read…


Chris Bowles


Dianne Stadhams


Margaret Bulleyment

mary-bevanMary Bevan


Mike Olley


Paula R C Readman


Penny Dale


Waiting for the guests…


Buy our books!


Don’t be scared, Paula…


Yvette Gyles greeting writer, Clare Weze


What is a collection of writers called?


Dad… with writer Elizabeth…


Writing Tweets and sharing tips!


Thanks to all those who came to celebrate the launch of our books!

And the theme for next time is Gliterary Tales! Opens for submissions January 1, closes March 31st


Also check out www.cafelit.co.uk always open for stories!

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Let’s get Festive

I always know that Christmas is finally on the way when I download my Jacqui Lawson Advent Calendar to my desktop and find myself in a Victorian festive scene. Day 2 decorating the snowman was FUN!

So as I gear up for another working day and the launch of the new Bridge House and CafeLit anthologies in London tomorrow I will give you my snowman!

Guaranteed to make you smile!


Looking forward to seeing some of you tomorrow!

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When Writers Meet

Just a short post this morning after a weekend of fun… and frustration.

Saturday saw the annual Christmas get together for Bridge House and CafeLit where we launched both collections at Waxy O’Connors pub off Leicester Square in London. This was a different venue for us as our usual was booked and what a quirky place with all kind of cubby holes and nooks, a bit Harry Potterish! I stood at the door and lead people around to our cordoned off section as I was sure people would be walking around in circles, as I was when I first arrived, looking for Gill!

The place had a great atmosphere although we discovered that the acoustics were a challenge for reading, and a thoroughfare to the kitchen meant a little busy. However it was wonderful seeing so many writers, some I knew, some I was meeting for the first time! I just think it’s important to bring writers together to celebrate their successes. I did try to get some good photos but with my phone they were a little dim but some shared here anyway.

photo 1 (1) photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 (1) photo 3 photo 4 (1) photo 4


The only dampener on the day (apart from acoustics) was the theft of my handbag which stupidly I left on the table with my books and notes when we talked… since the area was reserved for us I thought it was safe but not so… so I had to cancel all by cards (that someone tried to use) and lost house keys, sentimental things like pens that had been gifts and keyrings, my business cards (thankfully bearing no home address) and reading glasses which was the stinger as has cost me a fair bit to order new ones. However, and this is important, there are far worse things going on in the world right now so a little carelessness was a lesson to me and this time next week will be remembered just as that. Yesterday I was treated to a new handbag, replaced my favourite lippy, ordered new glasses, ready readers in the meantime… and well, all will be well. In time the keyring and pens will be replaced and I needed new business cards anyway!


But just a word of warning to be careful…

That is all!

Was great to see so many people there!


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It’s all in a name …

I know, I know you are probably already beginning to hit the overkill with the news of the Royal Baby, although I am eagerly awaiting the first pictures and wondering about the name.

Waiting for your first novel to finally be published is a little like waiting for a baby to be born — maybe? What do I know? I think the pain comes a lot earlier though, right? Rejection before the sunshine?

And now we wait to see what it looks like — even if the name came long ago?

But what of the name?

I have talked about names before and I mean titles and characters. I really think names are important — just as they will be for any baby, in particular of course as future King of England. So what of names?

I have to know a name feels right for my characters and sometimes I look up the meanings of names to make sure they really fit and make sure they seem age or era-appropriate. I also make sure they don’t turn my characters into a stereotype. They just need to feel right.

I think I have told you before, but I will remind you that I was advised to change the name of my African-American psychic from Delores to something else as it had a stereotypical feel to it.I liked Delores and struggled to think of her as anything else — but as I was reminded Whoopi Goldberg played a psychic in Ghost (and of course an African-American one) and while that wasn’t her name in Ghost, it was her name in Sister Act  (but spelled Deloris, you can also spell it Dolores). So I could see why she said it. I had a whole list of names on my whiteboard but the one that won was Lydia and now I can’t see her as anything else.

Names matter.

I often read stories in my work where I feel the names are too ordinary and while in real life maybe that happens, in fiction you can be more inventive or perhaps you use the boring name as a way of saying something about characters? Or add a nickname that surprises the reader. If I read one more Sophie, just back from university ,the daughter of our generic older lady character narrator who sounds just like the author, I might have to let out a small scream! Okay maybe I am being dramatic — but it happens a lot! The name not the screaming — although …

Really think about your names. I love the opening to The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell who looks closely at names in a really humorous way.

So what about titles?

I think titles are also really important and as fickle as it sounds can also influence our book buying — really.

There is no copyright on titles so as in my novel there is another of the same name — I think I would only have changed it if the said novel bore any similarity in theme to mine — but it doesn’t. This point was raised by my lovely editor but it just had to be that title as it fit so well.

But what I would say is we have had to discuss the cover in conjunction with the title. Since it’s about a missing child if the cover just showed a little girl, a title like While No One Was Watching, could imply one of those — we have a secret, what happens when Mummy’s not home feel to it — if you  catch me. So it is important and this is more connected to how the book is marketed. I want my cover to say classy American thriller. We’ll see!

I find titles come easy and often I have it right away but other times I have no title when I start writing and it comes later. This is particularly true for shorts. Sometimes I change it as I write it but I always know when it feels right and thus far no one has asked me to change a title.

I grappled with title names for the Alcatraz thriller that begs for a rewrite — it’s never been submitted. It started life with various names and one that stuck for a long time was The Reluctant Clairvoyant which seemed intriguing. Then after an Arvon course I toyed with the idea of just Reluctant but that felt too literary and right now in its resting phase it stands at Isle of Pelicans since this is the meaning of the name for Alcatraz. I quite like that.  Who knows if it will change again.

Now before I leave I want to tell you about the CafeLit 100-word challenge. I was prompted by the Reader’s Digest, a couple of years ago to write a few pieces of flash in EXACTLY 100 words. I am not really a good flash fiction writer so I used existing stories and wrote them in 100 words. I have a few and I used one of the CafeLit website yesterday: http://www.cafelit.co.uk/Butterflies.html

I then asked for more and a little flurry came in. So why not have a go?

Here’s the link: don’t submit to this blog, submit as instructed in the link and I will pick it up!


So I thought I would post another one of my attempts here. It’s more like a snapshot of a story but if you can show the conflict and get voice in 100 words you’re doing well. It’s a great exercise if nothing else.

Come on, even some of you non-writers could have a go at this and I will take contractions, as in he’s or they’ll as a single word since Word does. And the 100 words doesn’t include the title.

Have a great day everyone.




If you step on the cracks you disappear. It’s what Mum used to say.

Kids believe anything.

I’m standing outside Morrisons watching some woman herding brats across the car park, while I wait for a line to turn blue. Or not. It’s in my pocket. Couldn’t see it in there: fluorescent lights.

Darren’ll be with Brit – bunking Maths. Thinks I don’t know.


I think about what Dad’ll say, then try to unthink it. Since Mum died he doesn’t notice things anyway.

I slide my shoe forwards.  I wish Mum was here.

Then I step on the crack. And wait.

©Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, 2013

I write because ...

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In The Spotlight Guest Author Patsy Collins



In The Spotlight Author Patsy Collins

This week I’d like to welcome Patsy who regularly comments on my Blog. I first ‘met’ Patsy, in a virtual sense through CafeLit that many of you know I am the editor for and I’ve selected a few of her stories for that, including The Best of  as well. I have since followed her successes as a novelist — so I am delighted to welcome to her to the spotlight …

So tell us about yourself, Patsy … 

I’m a wife, gardener, cook, photographer and writer. (The ones starting with w are the most important.)

For the last few years I’ve been a tour guide on HMS Victory. I’ve just been made redundant though so this summer I’ll mostly be writing and travelling with my husband in our campervan. (He’s a freelance photographer)

Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first novel published. Have you had other things published first?

 It wasn’t a particular ambition until I started creative writing classes in 2002 (which I did almost by accident!) The brilliant teacher ‘strongly encouraged’ us to submit our work. After a generous amount of rejection letters I had two short stories accepted in the same week. One was published in The Lady the other in The Weekly News. For a couple of days I bounced around the house as though my parents had been Zebedee and a kangaroo. It still makes me smile to remember how I felt. It was a while before I had another acceptance but I was hooked by then.

I’d had around 150 short stories published by the time I entered my novel Escape to the Country in a competition. It won and was therefore published.

Do you have an agent? If not did you try to get one? Any advice about that?

Initially I did try to get an agent – with no luck at all. Having never had an agent I can’t advise whether or not it would be better to have one.

Do you belong to a writing group? Crit group? Have you had someone professionally critique your novel before submitting or publishing? How was that/? Would you do it again?

I belong to a small ‘real life’ writing group. Mostly we chat and encourage each other. I also belong to a couple of online writing groups and several members of these help with critiquing and I do the same for them.

I’ve not had professional critiquing but have paid for my self published novels to be proofread. I will definitely do that if I self publish again. Very few people would be happy to read a book full of typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes and even fewer writers are able to spot all their own errors.

Did you have your book accepted by a traditional publisher or choose self-publishing? If self-publishing, tell us about that choice, why you made it.

I’ve self published A Year and a Day. I did it that way because I’d done OK with a previous self published novel, Paint Me a Picture. I took the decision to self publish that one because the book didn’t fit into any genre so was hard to pitch to agents and publishers.

 What was the editing process like and how long did it take? Did you work with an editor? If you chose self-publishing can you tell us who you used and what the process involved. Would you do it again?

Editing A Year and a Day was done in several stages after excellent feedback from my critique buddies. It probably took two years from the start of the first draft until it was ready for proofreading (I also wrote shorts during that time)

For the proofreading I emailed off the document (to Helen Baggott) and she returned it after about a week with all the errors highlighted and appropriate notes and suggestions made. As a result I did some very minor rewriting and lots of typo correcting.

My husband designed the cover. He’s good at that kind of thing.

Uploading an ebook to Amazon is pretty easy as long as you follow the instructions. I might do it again but I’m not ruling out the possibility of trying the traditional route next time.

How much marketing have you had to do and how have book sales been? 

I’ve done pretty much all the marketing, even with the first novel that was published for me. I think it’s now common for new authors, even traditionally published ones, to be largely responsible for this.

My publisher organised a book signing for the first one (which was quite successful). For each book I’ve given local radio interviews, visited blogs, attempted to get mentions in local (and national) publications with limited success, and promoted via social media.

Sales haven’t been huge. I didn’t expect them to be as I’m still almost unknown. I’ve had good reviews though and encouraging feedback. My hope is that those who like my books will tell others. That seems to be happening. ‘Word of mouth’ can be very effective but it does take time. It’s still less than a year since my first novel was published, so I’m hopeful of further sales.

Tell us about the latest novel …

A Year and a Day is a romance. It starts when two friends have their fortune told. Stella is very sceptical and refuses to follow the path laid out for her, at least at first. Daphne is totally convinced by the gypsy’s prophecy and follows it faithfully.

Their respective behaviours see them loving, or carefully not loving, the tall, dark handsome Italian restaurant owner, Luigi. Neither tactic goes to plan. The gypsy’s mentions of job changes, a journey across water, one girl saving the other’s life and the promise of a happy family have equally mixed results.

Luckily John, Daphne’s irritating brother, is there to help them out of their worst scrapes and Thirteen, the black cat, is no trouble at all.

There’s food, flowers, cocktails, shoes, policemen, sexy Italian accents, danger, love and laughter before they find out if the gypsy was telling them the truth.

It’s available from Amazon as an ebook. AMAZON

(note from Debz — do check out Patsy’s other books here: LINKS)

What next? Tell us about work in progress and aspirations.  Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

I’m currently working on another romance about a photographer with a campervan. It’s not going to be autobiographical in any way, but I will be researching it thoroughly!

My aim is to continue writing short stories and novels. I’d love to run writing workshops too. Once I’ve left the day job I’ll have time to do that. If you’d like me to visit your writing group (and there’s room to park a campervan outside) let me know!

Any advice for writers who are trying to get their work published?

Keep trying. It’s not easy but it is possible. All published writers were once unpublished writers.

Tell us something random about you for the pure hell of it

I once flogged an American Admiral (called Chuck if I remember correctly) with a cat o’ nine tails. I haven’t yet worked that into any of my stories …

Finally: can we post an extract of your novel?

Yes, here’s an extract from quite near the beginning.


Stella was glad to put down the panther when they got back to Daphne’s flat.

           “I’m sure my arms must be a good couple of inches longer.”

           “He can’t be heavier than the curry and wine. I suppose it is a he?” Daphne said as she set plates on the table.

           “He is. I bet he is heavier and he’s bigger and I have been carrying him for loads longer and I’m weak with hunger.”

           “I’m working as fast as I can,” Daphne said, removing lids from the foil containers. “What are you going to call him?”


           “Thirteen! You can’t; it’s unlucky.”   

            “No it’s not, it’s just a number. Actually in this case it’s a date; the thirteenth of July and as I won him today, that makes it lucky. Plus as he’s named after a date that means I’ll always have a date to snuggle up with.”

           “OK, you’ve convinced me.” Daphne’s expression suggested she was simply convinced there was no point arguing rather than that she agreed but at least she returned her attention to a far more important issue: curry.

           While Daphne unpacked the food and garnished it with chopped coriander. Stella selected a CD from Daphne’s collection. They ate the tasty meal and discussed every detail of the fortunes they’d been given. Almost every detail; Stella didn’t want to spoil Daphne’s enjoyment by mentioning the bit about family sadness. As Rosie-Lee said, it was all in the past.

           Once they’d eaten, Stella insisted they do everything properly by listening to The Searchers singing Love Potion Number Nine before lighting a candle, dimming the lights, laying the envelope face down on the table and pouring more wine.

           Daphne proposed a toast. “To the future.”

           “The future,” Stella agreed. She sipped her wine. “It’s looking Rosé-er already.”


Copyright Patsy Collins, an extract from A Year and a Day  Reproduced with kind permission of the author



Feel free to add anything else you want to say!!!

As well as my novels you can also buy many of my short stories. These are available from Alfie Dog (39p each). To give you a taster I’m also offering a collection of stories for free from smashwords.


Alfie Dog

I keep a blog. It’s mostly about writing and includes lots of links to free to enter writing competitions, but other random stuff does sneak in sometimes. Patsy’s Blog



Thanks so much Patsy for sharing your journey and we wish you many future successes!

Next week we welcome to the spotlight author Mandy James to tell us all about her new novel


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CafeLit Stories …

To continue what I talked about yesterday, what is CafeLit?

Well as part of the vision Gill James had about the creative cafes, she also wanted to use it as a way to showcase the wealth of writing talent out there. Since Gill is a successful published YA novelist as well as a short story writer, she decided these would take the form of short shorts, less than 3000 words, usually closer to 1000. These are stories someone could read while supping coffee in one of the cafes.  So she launched CafeLit as an ezine, the stories are published on the CafeLit website and each one is assigned a suitable drink, we ask you the writer to think of a drink when you submit and we input if you can’t think of something. But it’s usually easier than you think! Think nettle tea for stories about bitterness … espresso for stories about love in short measure, summer fruit cordial for spring time stories … snowball for this time of year. We even had coffee with curdled cream once, imagine what kind of story that was?

And we publish anything good … and that in itself is a vague term — good? Nice? Urgh! Is that not subjective? To be honest, when I was taken on to edit by Gill, once she’d got it established, I decided I would very much go with gut. As I think Gill did and I wanted to follow her vision of publishing essentially (here comes the vague word again) ‘good fiction’. And pretty much anything goes, if it is strong writing or has potential with some editing. I reject a few stories each year …  but if I do I always provide a mini critique and editorial suggestions and will always reconsider if it’s sent in again. So you can gain some of my critiquing as well 🙂

When I say we publish anything I guess then that’s not strictly true, and they have to be stories not poems (and I am not a poet!) — flash is fine, as little as a sentence if it’s good would be 🙂 But it has to ‘have something.’ It’s the indefinable thing again. I know it when I see it!

Is it easy to get published on the site?

Actually it’s a LOT easier than many of the publishing outlets available to aspiring writers. Why?

Not because we take anything, even badly written, we certainly don’t … but because many writers play with styles, genre, try new things, are a little experimental. The market for this can be difficult, certainly for finding an agent and having a collection published. But we like to encourage these differences. True they aren’t published in some high brow acclaimed literary magazine … but who knows where this might lead. But they are published on the website and the dedicated Blog and we have a Facebook page and of course we Tweet about it. I’m greedy and am @PawsDebz and @BridgeHouseDebz and Gill is @GillJames . So do have a look at the links above and if you don’t follow us on Twitter, why not? We did have some website issues and migrated the old website earlier this year so there are all of the stories on the Blog but the website is only from half way through this year …. we weren’t able to migrate all the stories across.

The aim is to have a story a day but that hasn’t happened yet, although we are over this week and next (with maybe the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day… although I might! Ho hum ….

When you submit you are giving permission for it to go on and I will contact you with edits (if any) and to tell you when the stories will appear and will share links when on!

Each year we aim to publish an annual of the Best Of, stories on from October 15 one year — October 14 the following year. At the moment I have been reading all the stories again and deciding what would make a good showcase selection of what CafeLit is. Last year Gill chose her favourites.

So far I have 22 I plan to include in the Best of 2012, but I won’t release the names until I have read them again all together as a collection as I copy-edit, to make sure they work well, the traditional alongside the more unusual, and see if I feel the need to add a couple more. So watch this space and the Facebook Page for the names after Christmas.

If you want to see the collection we put together last year then the book is on Amazon and I know some of my lovely followers have bought this as stocking fillers … and indeed have stories in it! There’s even a great little piece by a child who worked in one of my Paws Workshops … it was so good I encouraged him to send to the site and Gill chose it for the book! Another one published under the age of 16!

Click on the links below by the cover to look at and order this book!

So, if you want to send me something I am looking now for New Year stories, about new beginnings perhaps? Email me using the editor@cafelit.co.uk email (check out the guidelines) and you might start the new year with a success! And you never know … it might make it into the Best of 2013! 

And remember, we love unusual, thought-provoking, experimental as well as mainstream …

Have a great day all!

Buy here: ebook or paper!

Buy here: e-book or paper!


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CafeLit and the Creative Cafe Project

It all started with a dream … (the way Barry Manilow wrote the song ‘One Voice’ … a little trivia for you!)

I remember when Gill James said to me that she’d had a dream … it was an idea that came to her one night and one I have to say certainly sounded like something that had wings.

And what was that idea?

It was the idea that none of us are ever far from a Creative Cafe. A place where creative people sit and read books, sketch, write … and more than that, perhaps display art on the walls, play host to writing groups and hold book launches. She said she imagined the cafes would carry a window sticker, a little like a restaurant rating or Fair Trade. A form of creative branding. All people would have to do was visit the website to find one in every town and they would know what to expect.

It was a while before that idea started to stretch its wings … but slowly it did and now a number of cafes have signed up to the project that Gill founded, with some funding and the support of Salford University.

Take a look at the website and perhaps you can nominate a local cafe? They don’t have to pay to be part of this but it is hoped they will host events and generate interest.

Creative Cafe

One of the first cafes was Blue Sky in Bangor, a popular haunt of mine and we have launched books there. We also used to have our writing group there.  Do have a look.

Cafelit is an extension of the Creative Cafe Project and I will talk some more about that tomorrow, the type of stories we publish for the ezine that I am editor for; what I look for and why I selected the stories I did for the Cafelit Best of 2012. So watch this space.

Have a great writing day 🙂



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