Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Rather Spectacular Celebration ~ Brit Writers Awards 2011!

Spectacular, innovative, inspiring ~ three words to describe this exciting initiative: The Brit Writers Awards ~ brainchild of Imran Akram ~ designed to encourage unpublished and self-published writers of all ages. 
Buzzing, glitzy… I could go on.  Suffice to say, the event was a huge success, bringing together creative writers, representatives from the publishing world, celebrities, dignitaries and the media.  The venue, Madame Tussauds in London ~ another inspired idea, was perfect. A guaranteed ice-breaker, where people mingled freely, chatted, posed with the celebs permanently in residence, and partook of the plentiful free wine and canapés on offer, before going into the Awards to enjoy the ceremony and yet more wine and delicious food at the table.

Personally, I was super-pleased that I got the chance to chat with Georgina Kirk, author of Once Upon a Princess a very Hairy Beard Did Grow before she was crowned Brit Writers Unpublished Writer of the Year 2011 (overall winner of £10k). Georgina was nervous, hopeful, but mostly, “thrilled to be part of an amazing event, which had inspired her to pick up her writing after a break due to disillusionment”.  That, I think, sums up what the BWA is all about, firing up people to do/continue doing what they are most passionate about, writing!

It was fabulous to see so many children attending the event, who were obviously enjoying the whole experience and, more importantly, had enjoyed the process of getting there and discovering their talent for writing.  For information ~ and quoting the BWA directly: The Brit Writers act as a springboard to trigger a revival of love for creative writing. To date, over 1.8 million school children are involved in their creative writing programme and Brit Writers provide downloadable lesson plans, writing resources and ideas for teachers to keep the subject interesting and bring it all to life.  Just a hunch, but I suspect it’s working.

I was also thrilled to finally meet former teacher, Catherine Cooper, who won last year’s Unpublished Writer of the Year Award, along with a publishing deal, for her children’s novel, The Golden Acorn.  Catherine is now a bestselling author (named by the Observer as one of the four in the running to fill the JKR void) and also has a movie in the making! What many people perhaps won’t know, unless they’ve had the pleasure of chatting with her online, is that Catherine is simply one of the nicest, most supportive and unassuming people you could wish to meet.  I love her work, love her, and wish her the absolute best of luck.

It was, of course, also fantastic to touch base with fellow participants from Groups One and Two of the Publishing Programme.  You shone, guys.  Keep supporting each other and ~ to steal a catchphrase from Strictly ~ Keep Writing!  

As Richard Burton (Infinite Ideas Publishers) reiterated in his speech, the Brit Writers Awards is about encouraging people who are passionate about writing, in all categories.  I think it’s achieving its aim, hopefully making dreams come true.

Oh, talking of which, if George Clooney has gone mysteriously missing from Madame Tussauds, it wasn’t me.  J

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Goodreads Review ~ The Dallas Mercenary

The Dallas MercenaryThe Dallas Mercenary by M. E. Oren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently learned that The Dallas Mercenary is now available in local libraries and I am thrilled for the author. This is a book that should be widely available to adults and young-adults alike, and, in my opinion, should certainly be on school reading lists. A previous reviewer says that Mr. Oren’s book tells a big story. I would agree in that it captures vividly and evocatively the vast distance between the comfortable suburbs of London and the squalid slums of the Mathary Valley in Kenya, where “rusty, ramshackle structures”called homes are interspersed only with the odd rotting rubbish heap and rivulets of sewage run freely in the streets. A place where starving people and animals compete for air thick with pollution; where young homeless boys – the Parking boys – learn through necessity the art of survival by whatever means available. To eat and find a place warm to sleep when the temperature drops to a bone-seeping chill is their day-to-day aim. To rise above their squalor and have a place they can call “home” is their dream.

Cleverly interweaving a back-story against a backdrop of dire poverty and corrupt politics, M E Oren tells the story of three people: A lost little boy, J’Alex. Sally-Anne, a twenty-three year old undergraduate, who, having previously befriended the boy whilst based in Kenya on a university project, is determined to revisit a country now torn by civil warfare and find him – and Biggy, a product of his own childhood and his struggle to survive in what Biggy himself terms a rubbish dump: Mathary Valley, originally a land-full site where they “dump the waste people”.

Through Mr. Oren’s excellent storytelling and Sally-Anne’s eyes, we see the naivety of a young girl to the grim reality of the Mathary Valley inhabitants’ existence. Through Biggy’s eyes, we see in the political naivety and tribal ignorance of children driven to do what they have to: Simply, to survive.

Fleshed out with other believable, yet richly colourful characters, The Dallas Mercenary is indeed a big book, a valuable learning tool – and a totally engrossing read. I didn’t put the book down until I’d finished it. And when I did, I shed a tear.

Thank you, M E Oren. This book will stay with me. I look forward with eager anticipation to your next book: DUDLHAM SINGS

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Goodreads Review ~ A Discerning Woman's Guide to Manhunting.

A Discerning Woman's Guide To ManhuntingA Discerning Woman's Guide To Manhunting by Bel Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If ever there was a book to fill a gap in the market, A Discerning Woman’s Guide to Manhunting is it. Aimed at a generation of women who are not prepared to be defined by society and fade to grey on reaching fifty…shhh, Bel Roberts has produced a witty, cleverly written little gem. For women who, in particular, have learned to be economically independent and are not prepared to compromise their principles, this book will prove a most-satisfying read. As the title implies, this a story about a mature woman of substance out on a manhunt. And why not? OK, we can’t all be iconic Goddesses, but can you really see Madonna swapping her sex-life for tan tights and slippers anytime soon? Sharon Stone. Michelle Pfeiffer? No, me either.

Written from the point of view of twice-married, now single and childless, Geri, the story takes an honest look at a woman’s attempt to find a “soul” mate, i.e. someone who is an intellectual match, to do something other than slip into her dotage with. Obviously, therefore, the prospects available do come under some scrutiny. I wondered if this might rattle a few men “of a certain age” but then decided a well-balanced man with a good SOH couldn’t fail to be amused at the observations, age being something none of us can hold at bay forever, even with miracle potions/lotions, good diet, etc. That said, I would quite like to see how Bel would tackle a similar book from a male pov. Clifford’s perhaps, the reasonably well-balanced male Geri doesn’t have to compromise her principles for? A man who definitely has a good SOH and is happy to help Geri with her research re the thorny problem off what “physical” attributes one should be looking for in one’s future mate.

The book also – poignantly – looks at that painful period in most people’s lives where the parent becomes the cared for, rather than the caregiver. This, I think, was handled really well, especially the heartrending subject of dementia. As someone who nursed a parent with early-onset Alzheimer’s, I did wonder whether flippancy around the subject might be upsetting. In fact, I ended up smiling, amused sometimes, sometimes with a little bit of sad nostalgia. The balance,though, was just right. The “green curtains” in the day room told me that Bel had put her research, perhaps experience, together to present the issue sensitively, but again, honestly.

In all then, a thoroughly good read. I liked the underlying hint that Geri, being single, should be the one to give up her life to look after her mum. I liked too that Geri, wasn’t prepared to, but was the one to look for a workable compromise, acceptable to all. It became very clear as the story progressed that Geri cared about her mum a great deal. My one and only tiny criticism would be that I would like to have seen Geri reflect on how much she cared a bit earlier on in the book, as she did later.

The scene were the social workers visit made me chuckle out loud (so true to life) and the BMW line was hilarious. Loved it!

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Friday, 17 June 2011

More News from the Talented Brit Writers!

Sinead Gillespie ~ Brit Writers’ Awards Publishing Programme Group 1 ~ is holding her second Scriptwriting workshop in Bridgewater. Sinead tells us a little about it below:
Thanks to the previous success writing and performing my one-woman show (From Within), I was asked to run a couple of Scriptwriting workshops at the oldest (as in first) UK Arts Centre in Bridgwater, Somerset.  Called “From Page to Stage”, the project is linked with an autumn event in conjunction with another centre at Taunton: a scratch night. A scratch night is where actors take scenes of brand new writing to the stage so the writer and audience can see how well it works in action. It’s very exciting for new writers to see their words come to life. I have been through the process as both actor and writer so I am very pleased to be involved in a different role this time; inspiring new playwrights to develop their work.

The first workshop was so much fun the participants requested an extra date. So this Saturday at 10.30am we will be doing a session on Character. Our final session, the scratch night, will be on July 9th when we’ll be working on Plot. It gives me a real buzz to be able to share creative journeys with other writers. It is always a two-way street (as those of us on the BWA publishing Programme have learned from one another). We all educate one another in our different approaches, methods, and motivation.

I’m really looking forward to the next two sessions, and I suspect the actor in me may just have to get involved in the scratch night too!
Claire Kinton ~ Publishing Programme Group 1 ~ has been getting herself in the Lincolnite News! 
Creative writing: Claire Kinton, a local author of popular teenage novel Dead Game, is encouraging her teenage readership to get involved.
Georgina Kamsika ~ Publishing Programme Group 1 ~ has a short story up at Romance Flash in time for their one year anniversary: Acceptable Suitors at
Georgina Kamsika delivers again with another wonderful romantic flash fiction piece!

Michael Oren ~ Brit Writers’ Awards Publishing Programme Group 2 ~ has his book THE DALLAS MERCENARY (on general release July 2011) out now on Kindle! 

A little bit about the author, by the author: First and foremost, I am a writer. Then I'm a novelist, journalist, commentator, poet, entertainer, a Londoner and an African in no particular order. I strive to write quality works of fiction, most of which transcend genre. I try to inform and educate whenever I can, but my main aim in writing fiction is to entertain, keep my readers tearing through the pages.

You can find out more about Michael and read extracts from The Dallas Mercenary here: Michael E. OrenWhile you’re there, take a look at the blurb for Michael’s upcoming book Dudlham Sings, which promises to be equally as thrilling as Michael’s first book. 

NOW ON KINDLE. Paperback version available for pre-order

At the initial signs of some skirmishes over the disputed elections in Kenya, a young English woman sets off to save her 12-year old friend from a possible threat of civil war. The trip turns into a long journey through the underbelly of the Third World that will leave her questioning whether these people ever really had peace in the first place.

WELL DONE GUYS!  Brilliant stuff.  BWA participants forging a path forward.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Goodreads Review - A HEARTBEAT AWAY written by Michael Palmer

A Heartbeat AwayA Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve just read reviews from both ends of the critical spectrum. I have to say I lean toward the most favourable. I, too, thought the premise was simple and brilliant. Scarily believable: The release by terrorists of a bio-weapon originally home-grown by order of the president. This is where I detract from the opinion of the more critical reviewer. OK, I’m a UK reader, so perhaps less informed on the inner workings of US politics, but, to me, the President seemed very convincing. I could picture him, so he must have been. I did wonder a couple of times where Griff found his physical strength from – given his incarceration – but then I remembered what was at stake… and human beings can tap on extraordinary resources when faced with… well, the annihilation of the population of the US? The world? Disaster anyway. I liked that I didn’t question Michael’s (necessary) scientific descriptions. (A big plus. If it bores me or blinds me with science, I can’t read it, and this didn’t). Hands up, I admit I love dogs, totally. I foster disabled dogs, so there you go. Griff’s reasons for not wanting to go the animal testing route were very touching – without being soppy, and believable. Overall, I loved A Heartbeat Away. It has stayed with me, beckoning me to write this review. This is the fist Michael Palmer book I’ve read and I’m a fan. A Heartbeat Away

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Friday, 3 June 2011


I can’t keep up with the Brit Writers’ Awards Publishing Programme participants’ achievements.  There is no stopping these people.  They’re not knocking on doors anymore.  They are breaking them down!

With huge congratulations to the authors, I’ve summarised briefly below:

First off: David Logan, an author on the BWA two year Publishing Programme, has won the Terry Pratchett debut writers’ award for his darkly atmospheric book, Half Sick of Shadows!  David was chosen as joint winner for the inaugural Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now prize: £20,000 to split with Michael Logan (no relation) and a publishing contract with Transworld Publishers.  Excellent!
Terry Pratchett reveals winners of his debut writers' award | Books |

Claire Kinton – on the one year BWA Publishing Programme - has earned a fabulous review in The Guardian UK for DEAD GAME, a mystical, compelling story of Lance Corporal Archie Fletcher’s journey through transit.  Well done, Claire!

Ruth Heald was invitedto give a talk at the first ever Bangkok Literary festival, organised by the Neilson Hays library, where she spoke about the challenges and the opportunities presented by the new publishing landscape.  I know Ruth was nervous, rubbing shoulders with other high calibre speakers – including Ken Hom, Stephen Leather and Christopher G Moore, but apparently the audience was extremely receptive and her talk went down very well. The bottle of wine Ruth received by way of thanks was most appreciated.  Great stuff, Ruth!  Back at her desk and hard at it, Ruth has now launched launched the Five Stop Story latest short story competition. 
We’re pleased to announce Five Stop Story’s third short story competition. The theme is “travel” and we’re looking for publishable, proof-read stories of 1,500 to 2,500 words.

Eiry Rees Thomas, author of THE FLITWIT CAPERS, was invited along to Palmerston Primary school to participate with the children in Flitwit Friday, an inspired idea to bring fun into learning.  Eiry says, “The children were absolutely brilliant.  I owe them and their teachers so much. Matthew, my illustrator, and I were presented with a magnificent show, DVD, professional calender, giant portfolio of the children's work, a superb tea and friendship pebbles etc.” 

Eiry was joined by her husband, who dressed up for the day (and who apparently can't recall ever having such a fun day during his long teaching career).  To Eiry's surprise, fellow authors Spencer Ratcliff and Bel Roberts also turned up to lend their support, along with Zareen Roohi Ahmed from the Brit Writers’ Awards.  Looks like Flitwit Friday might be here to stay!

Hopefully, I’ll bring you news of other participants exciting adventures next time, including a bit about Sinead Gillespie’s Saturday morning scriptwriting workshops.   

As for myself, I’ve just been offered a contract by Safkhet Publishing for a rom com with a very Unique Selling Point.  Preen. Preen. 
Safkhet started as a company providing text work to other publishers. It evolved into a publishing house that is truly honest with its authors, freelancers and business partners to create a fantastic work environment bringing high quality books that make a difference to the world.


Friday, 20 May 2011

A quick update...

...on the progress of one or two of the Brit Writers’ Awards Publishing Programme participants, which I’m sure they won’t mind me sharing. 

For information, the May 2011 edition of Write Now! Magazine is out, packed with information for new and unpublished writers, and starring our very own Claire Kinton, BWA Publishing Programme author, who visited Parkdale Primary School in Nottingham.  Claire, author of DEAD GAME, was there to give a talk on writing and being an author following a week of creative writing activities undertaken by the children as part of the BWA Creative Writing Programme. 

Claire was joined by Imran Akram, Brit Writers CEO, and Susanne Murray, Nottinghamshire schools supplier TTS Group, who are on board as local Schools Territory Partner, effectively sponsoring every school in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire to benefit from free membership of the BWA Creative Writing Programme. 

This is one of many  talks Claire is giving in hopes of inspiring children to put pen to paper and express their ideas.  From feedback, it is clear that she is indeed an inspiration.  Well done, Claire!

Another BWA Publishing Programme participant, Eiry Rees Thomas, author of THE FLITWIT CAPERS - a humorous series of books for early readers/transition books category, is also out and about visiting schools. Eiry’s stories feature fictional characters named THE FLITWITS and Eiry – together with her illustrator, staff and pupils at the school - will be dressing up as the characters – making learning and reading huge fun for the children. Another inspiring idea.  Congrats on that, Eiry!  Also on getting Imran Akram, Brit Writers CEO, to participate.  We look forward to photographs.  
Ruth Heald, author of the novel "27", which was selected by the second BWA programme, also runs short story competitions Five Stop Story - Writers - 2011 Short Story Competitions which is featured on the back page of Write Now! Ruth has been asked to speak at the Bangkok Literature festival!  Great Stuff! 
All in all an industrious group of writers. 
As for moi… Well, I have an author-friendly publisher interested in some of my rom com stories. Yay!  I’m really pleased about this.  Not least because without the support of the BWA – along with that of my lovely fellow authors on the BWA Publishing Programme, I might not have had the confidence to just go for it and submit.  Thanks guys!
Safkhet started as a company providing text work to other publishers. It evolved into a publishing house that is truly honest with its authors, freelancers and business partners to create a fantastic work environment bringing high quality books that make a difference to the world.

Right, I’m off to write another chapter on the follow up to my soon to be published book, FIVE SHALLOW BREATHS.  The new book is called STRANGE DARK PLACES, the outline for which has been co-written with my son.  I hate to admit it, but his idea is awesome!  Far better than mine.

More to follow on other participants... as soon as I can catch up with them.

Happy writing all!

Monday, 9 May 2011

So thrilled to be here.

Post edits, my blurb, synopsis and chapters are now back in the hands of the Brit Writers’ Awards and soon to be in front of the eyes of publishers.  Along with other members of the Brit Writers’ Awards Publishing Programme (a fabulous group of mutually supportive authors), I await feedback with mixed feelings: euphoria, excitement and trepidation.  The trepidation bit is part and parcel of being a writer, as anyone who has written and submitted will know.  The euphoria comes from massively improving my thriller through simple, concise edits.  The excitement…  Well, wouldn’t you be a tad excited to have got to this stage?

Watch this space for updates.  Meanwhile, here is my take on another thrilling read, or rather, re-read.  A good book is like a good film.  You see so much more of the genius in the detail second time around.

The LadykillerThe Ladykiller by Martina Cole

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As THE TIMES said, “Martina Cole pulls no punches, writes as she sees it, refuses to patronise or condescend to either her characters or fans”. And that sums or Martina’s writing for me. If you want powerful writing that explores the underbelly of society, that packs a punch and examines characters so thoroughly you come to know them yourself intimately, fall in love with them (despite flaws—Patrick Kelly) or hate them, but most of all understand them, read Marina Cole. I read this for a second time and would easily read it again. Brilliant writing. Narrative and dialogue faultless. The Ladykiller

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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

So, tell me a little about yourself...

Er?  Umm?  What do you say when someone—an agent!?  A publisher!?—asks you the mind-stultifying question, “Tell me a little bit about yourself?”  In my shoes, you gabble.  You flush down to your décolleté and search manically for your Unique Selling Point.  Any selling point would do.  Your page, however, is suddenly blank, where only yesterday, whilst creating your latest masterpiece—complete with absolute Unique Selling Point—words were tripping over themselves in an effort to get out. 

As a writer, you have to wear so many hats, juggle so many balls.  Even without on-line promo and social networking, which for the less computer savvy (moi) is brain-addling in itself, you can bet your life when a writer says they divide their time between writing and full-time harassed mum, or dad, they are probably wearing a few more hats than that.  Maybe they are zombie-like writers by night and a full time/part time working parent by day, often to be seen dashing back to the car to collect the baby they forgot they’d got because baby did the incomprehensible and fell asleep.     

But here’s the thing, those same people are also very likely to have other demands on their time.  A special child perhaps, who might need a little bit more of that precious commodity, time?  An angst-stressed teenager or two...or three!?  An ageing parent…or two?  Which brings me back to my previous blog:
Everbody Hurts...Sometimes, the overriding theme there being “be kind to people”, particularly on Internet forums, because you only ever get a snapshot of that person and can’t possibly know what might be going on in their lives.  It could all be roses, of course, but let’s face it, life often isn’t—for most people…sometimes.   

So who am I?  OK, I’m a mother who has someone special in her life, requiring that bit more time.  I'm a partner in a financial services business, ergo responsible for everything from data protection, consumer crediting, client fact-finding, computer inputting to who does the dusting.  I have an art degree, which allowed me the privilege of teaching art to down’s children previously.  I’m currently a critique partner on a school’s learning project.  I nursed a parent through early Alzheimers, where NHS care was non-existent; a gentle, intelligent woman who carried herself with quiet dignity, until that awful disease stripped it away.  Ah, yes, and I foster disadvantaged dogs, ancient, blind and decrepit…but completely loveable…from the local rescue centre.  Phew.  As life skills go, not completely talentless then.

Oh, I’m also a writer, the frustrations of which have been known to turn me from a reasonably nice person ;) into a demented Mrs Hyde. 

That’s me then.  An all-rounder, proud Brit Writers' Awards Publishing Programme participant, currently—calmly—awaiting her edits. J

Whilst waiting, I thought I’d bring you news re one or two other people involved with the Brit Writers’ Awards.

CLAIRE KINTONBritwriters’ Awards Publishing Programme Participant

In Claire’s own words:  “I will be signing copies of DEAD GAME at WH SMITHS in Lincoln on 16th April 2011 - 12 noon until 3pm. SSAFA Forces Help will be there with me. If you are free please do come & support us & buy a signed copy of DEAD GAME. Please spread the word. With all my best wishes Claire”.

CATHERINE COOPER Winner of the Brit Writers’ Awards in July 2010. 


Infinite Ideas, publisher of The Golden Acorn, Catherine Cooper’s prize-winning novel for 8 to 12 year olds, has optioned motion picture rights to Los Angeles based Delve Films Inc.


Goodreads Review - DEAD GAME written by Claire Kinton

Dead GameDead Game by Claire Kinton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started to read the Author’s Note to DEAD GAME by Claire Kinton and it had me intrigued. But what about the book, I thought. I flicked to the first chapter and I was hooked, immediately. Read it. Take a peek on Amazon look inside the book. Get a copy. READ IT. If you don’t think fantasy is for you, think again. This is fairytale fantasy for adults, for younger adults, for men and women, girls and boys, alike. OK, so what do we have? We have young Lance Corporal Archie Fletcher’s stricken plane plummeting into the sea. And it’s terrible, awful, because we love Archie’s lust for life, his humour, his individuality, before we’ve even reached a pause in the first chapter. We want, NEED, to know what happens to him. Claire Kinton takes us on his journey, a fantasy of what comes next that is utterly absorbing and, all-importantly, believable. Throughout the story, Claire—with literary magic—weaves Archie’s current transitional state of being with his real-life past, showing us who he is, where he came from, his reality, his family. Giving us a glimpse of the boy that grew into a man, whose sense of adventure bound him for the services; who then tragically became a casualty of war. Claire shows us Archie’s future. You live it. DEAD GAME is beautifully written, mystical…pure magic. A MUST read. As an adult, when you’ve turned the last page and know it to be true, pass it on to your son or daughter (better still buy it for them! Claire supports SSAFA Forces Help and Help For Heroes and a donation from every book sold goes to both Charities). I have. I guarantee they won’t be disappointed.

For more information on Claire and her own journey with the Brit Writers’ Awards, check out:

Dead Game

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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Goodreads Review - PILLPOPDOM written by Robert Coles

PillpopdomPillpopdom by Robert Coles

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've just finished reading the first three chapters of Robert Coles Pillpopdom It's hilarious--and really cleverly written. The scene in the student digs with the tripped out gerbil and that sentence--“No answer. Not a peep out of him. That was to be expected however, he’d nodded off”--had me giggling out loud. Good one!

Selected by the Brit Writers Awards, Pillpopdom has been called, 'a pill-popping Bridget Jones in a Spanish Lost in Translation' and it lives up to expectation. Take a look at Robert’s website where you can download the first chaps for free.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Everybody Hurts...Sometimes

The writer writes because he/she is compelled to.  Just as the painter is compelled to paint, the sculptor to sculpt, the actor to act.  The fact is most artists, with the exception of a few—Hirst, JKR, Liam Neeson, find it difficult to make ends meet.  We don’t begrudge the high earners their success—they too will have suffered and made sacrifices, we are inspired by it, but the fact remains, creating art does not provide a steady income.  Most artists, be they writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, actors, have to work day jobs to subsidise their income, or simply go without…holidays, clothes, new cars…  Actors, who we might applaud in the theatre or recognise in the odd TV drama, whilst “resting” in between roles are often to be found working at not very glamorous jobs in order to be able to make themselves available when a part becomes available.

It is the artist’s choice then, some would say.  They are choosing to “suffer for their art”.  Some might say an artist has to suffer to in order to create great art, that suffering enhances creativity, take the work of Van Cough, the seemingly tortured paintings of Goya, the music of Ella Fitzgerald.

Going without is not so much an option, of course, for the artist who has family/children dependent on them, which leads me to my topic.  Peel back the layers and look at most “creative” individuals trying to promote themselves via the media or social forums on the Internet and you will find…a person!  If you get to know that person a little better, read between the lines, if you will, you will begin to realise that the person has suffered in some way, grown from that suffering, very probably, finding in themselves exceptional qualities to cope, perhaps with loss, poverty, depravation, oppression, bullying. Often calling on hidden strengths and giving of unremitting love and dedication to support ailing parents, spouses, special children. 

As human beings we cannot fail to feel for the casualties of the terrible dual tragedy in Japan, the oppressed people of Libya, the victims of the floods in India…so many world tragedies.  Compassion unites us as people, or it should.  We have to support those so tragically less fortunate than ourselves.  And, for the most part, we do.  Our generosity of spirit as a Nation is overwhelming when we are called upon by those who need us.

Knowing we are capable of such compassion then, take time to look a little harder at the people we interact with on a daily basis, whether it be face-to-face or via some other communication forum (as fellow Brit Writers’ Awards author Sinead Gillespie pointed out in her blog Sinead: An author with an Aspie).  Take a look.  Read Sinead’s other blogs, while you are there.  Find out about the person.  Likewise, take a moment to look at Claire Kinton’s recent blog Living with Dyslexia.  Both blogs will strike chords for many people.  As authors, we share this information precisely for that reason, to help other people and, importantly, hopefully, to inspire.

We all, whoever we are, have most likely suffered life’s psychological and emotional dramas.  It’s part of being human.  Kindness and understanding is something we can offer others to ease that suffering sometimes…and it costs nothing.  We can give that freely.  We could even have a “be kind to people” Internet philosophy.  It’s a thought.  A lot of people get hurt by unkind comment via internet forums, occasionally with catastrophic consequences.

I have someone “special” in my life.  I can’t share more, for his sake.  This I will say though.  Yesterday, after his hospital appointment and while I was standing petrified, literally frozen with shock to the spot, that person took the initiative that others couldn’t and whisked a toddler—a rosy-cheeked, smiling toddler—from the path of an oncoming bus.  There were several other buses behind it, coming at speed along a city centre bus lane.  Beside herself, the little girl’s mum burst into tears.  My heart stopped.  My special person shrugged—as if he did that kind of thing twice a day and marched on. 

A very special person indeed. 

Life can be kind.  Equally, it can be terribly cruel.  We all suffer.  Let’s be a little kinder to each other. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

Every day in every way…

…we are getting stronger.  After the first Brit Writers’ Awards cluster group meeting yesterday, I am pretty sure each participant feels like singing it out loud.   And what is so fantastic, is that we are growing enough in confidence to sing it out loud.  More importantly, talk out loud—and confidently—about the books we have been working hard to perfect in order to give publishers what they really want.

We have now reached the crucial editing stage (yes, most of our books have been edited, tweaked, and re-edited, but we are now looking at editing by some of the best in the business and definitely “in the know”). Confidentiality agreements in the interest of all parties I am afraid prevents us naming names at this stage.  So sorry.  

We all believe (because, as a writer, you just have to believe.  And how great is it that the Brit Writers’ Awards have backed up that belief?) that we have written something worthy of being taken on by a publisher.  As most authors know though, writing is a solitary occupation where self-doubt can fester.  Eventually you have to urge the idea you have nurtured and fretted over until it has grown into a fully-fledged book gently out of the nest in hopes it might fly.  With submission, however, comes many a rejection, which, as hard as you try not to let it, chips away at your confidence. Speaking in public then, the aim being to give a concise, punchy and riveting presentation to a…OMG!...publishing team…  Well, put it this way, I would rather jump out of a plane.  And I know.  I’ve done it!

Here’s the thing though, we are terribly nervous (of course we are), but sliding under the table not being an option in public, we bite the bullet and launch into our spiel.  Just as with our pitches and synopses, it soon becomes clear that each and every person is there because they have written something original and a little bit, dare I say, unique!?  It soon also becomes clear that we need to untie our tongues and sell it.  What becomes abundantly clear is, wait for it…how to! 

There will be many a child wondering whether their writer mummy/daddy has gone completely gaga this weekend as said mummy or daddy hisses, shhhhhh, I’m myself.  Many a pet dog rolling its eyes.   But we will do it, because BWA have shown us the way.

Thank you Imran, Zareen and Joanna for another superbly organised, totally inspiring meeting.  Thanks also to Naomi, our in-group radio presenter, for organising the podcasts, and to Georgina for the social media expertise.  We simply couldn’t do it without you.     

See you in two weeks time, when we meet again.  Oh, dear, is that someone else I hear launching into song?

Just to close and for Lilly, who may not have seen the links fellow-participant Eiry has kindly posted, here is Spencer Ratcliff’s latest radio interview with Ian Wyatt of BBC Radio Essex.  Spencer (also a BWA Publishing Programme participant) divides his time between Australia and the UK and has spent most of his life working as a journalist. His novel THE VOICES OF CRABTREE LANE is set in an Essex country village in 1958, still reeling from the aftermath of war. The action hinges around the moment when the community's halcyon days of innocence come to a tragic end when popular boy, little Johnny Button, disappears while walking his dog.

Spencer's fourth interview – 1:51 into the programme well worth a listen: