Winchester Writers’ Festival 2014

 

 

Winchester Writers' Festival 2014

Winchester Writers’ Festival 2014

 

I was pleased and surprised to receive feedback by e mail from the literary agent I didn’t stay to see at the Winchester Writers’ Festival. It was good feedback, most useful and insightful of all, I wish I had been well enough to meet her. But on the plus side, I do have all feedback in e mail, better than my half-remembered scribbled notes.

 And yes! she wants to read the whole thing – after some of the character and back- story details are brought to the beginning. My novel, ‘ASH WEDNESDAY’, a working title,  was begun in 2008, during OU study within guidelines which appealed to maximum marks for the final assignment. It achieved ‘distinction.’ ‘Begin in media res’, had been the current advice. I took another year to complete the novel and I have since written another. No longer obliged to conform to certain O.U. guidelines, and with much more writing experience, I have become a better writer.

Angel (2)

It will be a challenge to apply my writing experience to a protagonist who may well have become very different from 6 years ago. I shall be able to concentrate solely on the art of writing since my initial draft is heavily illustrated.

 Now to reacquaint myself . . .angela12 022

PS – the Forensic Medicine book as recommended by . . . her name escapes me, at the Festival and which I bought for a few pounds from Blackwells, I had to leave open on a cookery book stand in the conservatory because the previous owner had been a heavy smoker. I glimpsed an image, had nightmares and threw the book in the dustbin first thing the next morning. Memoirs of a forensic psychologist was interesting but I did have to miss out the paragraphs which described violence in detail. That was a library book.

Checkouthttp://www.silverfingerpress.wordpress.com

 

The Day After the Day Before

blog 1dRAW pda 035

The day after the day after Winchester Writers’ Festival I spent the first hour walking along the shore. I didn’t think about dead bodies, or forensics. The second hour I sat in the dappled garden with tea and crumpet. I read, ‘The Uninvited’, by Liz Jensen. Just half way through and it is finally getting my attention.

blog2

I carried my camera to the shore and into the garden, and took 109 photos. I also slipped it into my bag before the festival and took not one single snap. I was unable to gather any interest at all despite giving myself a pep talk, ‘you’ll like it once you get there,’ ‘a free lunch’ . . . it didn’t work . . . ‘feedback on your novel,’ aroused some interest.

blog1

A place at the festival was my first prize for the best murder short-story last summer and I had been looking forward to going. I had just finished a 75,000 word detective story and was happy!!  Ahh, there’s the rub.blog7

blog5I had been cluttered with all four one-to-one sessions in one day, not my choice. With ME I knew I would be shattered . . . was shattered by 10.30am. Shattered after I parked the car in ‘disabled,’ a seriously angled narrow bay between two brick walls, a car-length wide.

All three agents gave completely and utterly diverse feedback: ‘excellent pitch’, ‘not long enough’; ‘Great opening’; ‘lose the opening’; ‘really connected to character’; ‘character betrays responsibility to reader’ . . . I could go on. What did I expect?

The peach; ‘An accountant, an organised person, and a good one, does not aspire to murder.’ This comment threw me. Nowhere does this character aspire to, or commit murder.Where’s the sense in that remark?

blog6

Then, I understood, either he hadn’t bothered to read the synopsis properly, or I hadn’t written it well enough . . . I doubt he had read the requested 10,000 words. Then came the ‘how to’ tip – ‘Have a picture of your protagonist’ . . . A’HEM . . . The lecture continued and I switched off, glad when it was over. For this level of feedback, I could have borrowed a book from the library. Soooo glad it was free!

blog

Apart from that, the novel is; ‘publishable’, has ‘definite commercial viability’, all agreed it was, ‘well written’.

I was too flat and tired to hang about for the final 1-2-1 but left my e mail in order for her to contact me with feedback. Wonder if she’ll bother?

dRAW pda 003

At lunch I met and had an agreeable conversation with a young man who had completed his first novel, gained a professional critique and was a member of a supportive writing group. After the festival he planned to ‘send off’, to lots of publishers, if the book wasn’t taken up, he would publish digitally. Well planned.

I am sorry to have lost his blog address, (I lose things frequently) and if he reads this, please send it to me via my other blog; www.silverfingerpress.wordpress.com – thank you.

I have ordered a second hand forensics manual from Blackwells, a tip for all sleuth-writers from the hour of master class; ‘Bring out your Dark Side’ that I did manage to get to.

1-2-1 Feedback was personal with an eye on business. I sat next to a young woman while waiting, her novel is about a town of angels on earth taking care of us humans. I metaphorically cast my eyes heavenwards thinking ‘derivative’, while smiling; ‘lovely.’I spoke to her afterwards, the agent will read it when it’s finished. There we go.

I have seen my angel. It appeared between me and a dying woman in case death mistook me for her. The angel was much bigger than the hospital ward and gold flakes, like fish scales caught the light before it went. The woman in the bed opposite died while the angel was there. I’d like to say, ‘while the angel spread its wings,’ but I didn’t see wings.

dRAW pda 108

CHECK OUT: www.silverfingerpress.wordpress.com

Top 30 Opening Words

Some opening words of the latest FASTBACKS from Southampton Library Service top 30 books. What makes you read on?

Top 30 Authors

51g5C9Eo-OL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-66,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_Kate Atkinson • ‘Life After Life’  – A FUG OF tobacco smoke and damp clammy air hit her as she entered the café.

Linwood Barclay51mKhYBGWCL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_

510-9P9882L__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_

Sophie Kinsella – ‘Wedding Night’Prologue – Young people!’

Mark Billingham • The Dying Hours’Prologue – ‘How much blood?’

Rosamund Lupton – ‘Forgive Me’ – ‘Prologue – Flora kicked off her shoes, pulled her dress over her head and tossed it on the bed’.

Maeve Binchy 

510RdMOZELL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_Ian McEwan – ‘Sweet Tooth’ – ‘My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) and almost forty years ago I was sent on a secret mission for the British Secret Service.’

Dan Brown

51iwRssMi5L__SL150_Stephen King

Jo Nesbo – ‘The Bat’ – ‘Something was wrong.’

Lee Child – ‘Never Go Back’ – ‘Eventually they put Reacher in a car and drove him to a motel a mile away,where the night clerk gave him a room, which had all the features Reacher expected, because he had seen such rooms a thousand times before.’

James Patterson
• Harlan Coben • Lesley Pearse
• Martina Cole • Jodi Picoult
51CDfE2J1FL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_ Michael Connolly ‘The Gods of Guilt’ – ‘I approach the witness stand with a warm and welcoming smile.‘                                                     

• Ian Rankin • Ken Follett • Kathy Reichs                                             

Tess Gerritsen ‘Last to Die’ – ‘On the night that thirteen-year-old Claire Ward should have died, she stood on the window ledge of her third floor Ithica bedroom, trying to decide whether to jump.’

Ruth Rendell
• Philippa Gregory • Peter Robinson
• John Grisham •

Karin Slaughter – Unseen’ – ‘Detective Lena Adams winced as she took of her t shirt.’
P D James •

51dPiN0GpoL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_Wilbur Smith

Peter James

 

 

51XYpK+ffdL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_S J Watson

 

 

 

             Take a look at my other blog –   www.silverfingerpress.wordpress.com

Epiphany

Star – 7BC seen and followed by wise men from the east: Triple conjunction in Pisces of saturn,Jupiter. Acronical Sun in Virgo. Visible throughout the night; rose at sunset, set at sunrise.

silver 037

Epiphany

Buddha took the form of a star
to lead us West
and having hundreds of miles before us
not knowing where we were going,
we packed for all eventualities;
sore feet, paper and pen
and little treats to keep our equilibrium
in strange places.

Buddha ploughed through familiar constellations
and after sun and moon had grown and died and lived again
he paused. We knew when He would incarnate
but not exactly where
and enquiring of the king in that place,
who knew where but not when,
his sage told us to go to Bethlehem.

And so it was that the star led us there.

We stopped above a deep, deep valley,
the closest to hell there is on earth
and Buddha took us into the unfathomable crack
to the town of Bethlehem.

Music played, children called, evening meals,
lights glowed from windows
making our path radiant.
He shone above a house in a courtyard
with honeysuckle in bloom and olive trees
and vines and figs.

Feeling like fizzy champagne and
a bottomless ocean
we came to the house
and saw the child in His mother’s arms
bound in a red red blanket.

She gazed at his face
but we were blinded and fell to the ground
offering treasures for love and death
and all those sightless, formless things
which fashion our world,
from a sparrow’s feather
to our rushing hearts.

tag4

Published; Obsessed with Pipework; 2005

New Year: look back, look forward, time for re-assessment. Rake through the mud, dig up weeds, plant seeds, storm and sun, inspire, expire.

Everything passes, everything changes, just do what you think you should do.’ Dylan, B.   AND . . .

TSEliot

The Journey Of The Magi

http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=7070

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

 
Journey_Of_The_Magi1_77

‘Journey of the Magi’, ca. Sassetta, Sienese; 1423 – 1450. Tempera & gold on wood.

www.silverfingerpress.wordpress.com

Bumpy Ride

Look-back at 2013.

I am very happy to have won the short murder story competition at the Winchester Writers Conference. And pleased that it takes pride of place in the 2013 anthology. Best-Of-2013-Cover

http://store.winchester.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=1&catid=56&prodid=238

I shall take my prize, a place at the conference, next summer and look forward to it.
     Am I happy with my detective novel? No, I’ve not written enough. The detective agency is, at this moment, poised for the delicious ‘clashing together’ and final eruption.
     I blipped with marketeering.
    There was a bumpy end to my brief market career. Silverfinger publications are VERY particular about their venue and didn’t like being ignored or riffled through and abandoned. They learned to take with a pinch of salt, ‘positive venue thinking’, sooner than I did.
netleysmall1    

Netley Grange was my last actual market attendence. A supportive Writing Buddy took my stuff to both the Marlands and Mayfield Christmas markets, when I was unable to attend but had committed to, and did her best for me. Thank you!

The wet Winchester Sunday with a totally inadequate stall and poor position was the worse. I understand from other stall-holders that Winchester Guildhall was to be avoided at all costs.

Market Oct (9)

     blog5I created the Silverfinger Press as a result of marketeering, which is good and shows promise for the future. I published five Silverfinger books, four of them fully illustrated and twelfve sets of Christmas cards.
The ‘Didi’ books are a success with small children, mums and grandmothers. Positive feedback. The little book of Nursery Rhymes is also popular.

www.silverfingerpress.wordpress.com 

And, I did quite enjoy ‘being out there’ for a while. It was an experience, observing people not interested in books, or riffling through the pages, even reading a whole book of poems, commenting, ‘so true’, about ‘Poems for a State of Grace’, before dropping the carefully made Silverfinger publication and walking off. 
     I was so surprised at my first sale of Christmas cards that I mislaid the money, or perhaps even gave it back.
I have painted, mostly blue and gold, sea, sky. silver 004.
And I have made a friend and lost one, finally drew the line at posting my neighbour a Christmas card and tore up the one from a distant relative I have nothing to do with. I enjoyed both acts.

I also drove through a storm, visited London and cooked a Christmas meal.

aprilAprril

PEACE and CREATIVITY in the NEW YEAR

Writing Murder

 blood                  

                   The 2013 Winchester Writers’ Conference
                Announcing the winner to our writing competition:
        Hampshire Chronicle Short Story Competition; Murder in Mind

                                  Winner: Patricia Morgan

Murder in Mind, ‘Best of Three’ Adjudication:

This is a razon-sharp story . . . truly outstanding, and hence this year’s winner.The sharpness in the story reflects the nature of the subject matter, and is reminiscent of Martin Amis’ very slick writing about the criminal underworld. (think as well of Peter Greenaway’s, and, of course, Quentin Tarantino’s extrememly graphic rendering of similar situations in film). A gangster, Mr Red, kidnaps the executes his enemies depending on the answer they give to the question ‘what will happen to me when I’m dead?’ The situation is tense, the sentences are duly short, spiky, they don’t necaeesarily join up in obvious or predictable ways (there are even very short, one-sentence paragraphs as well). The similies are unusual: ‘All three men wore, if not black, then dark clothes, as if they were spawned in the night and had stayed there’. Like the prisoners in the story, we don’t know what’s going to happen next . . . which is thrilling for us . . .

Mr Red’s question ‘what will happen to me when I’m dead?’ determines the fate of the three prisoners.

The first prisoner gives an honest answer, ‘You will burn in hell.’ He is executed but the writing so enjoys telling the deatils that it is aesthetically thrilling . . .

The implication of the story is that writing is nothing less than a life and death matter. Thus its moral, at a ‘metafictional’ level of reference, reinforces the idea (which is as old as Greek tradgedy) that art is our trump card in the face of human suffering.

Patricia Morgan plays a mean game of cards with this splendid short story, ‘Best of Three’.

This is part of the appraisal by Professor Farnell, University of Winchester Arts Faculty, he adds, in an e mail to me; Each year in the short story competition there is always one entry that is clearly outstanding, and this makes my task as adjudicator all the easier. This year that outstanding entry was yours (ahead of previous winners of the competition).

Best-Of-2013-CoverIf you want to read what happens . . .

Winchester Writers’ Conference Best of 2013 is available for £8.95 in which ‘Best of Three’ takes pride of place at the beginning.

ENJOY!!

http://store.winchester.ac.uk/browse/product.asp compid=1&modid=1&catid=56