Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...

Zooming along!

It was a real pleasure yesterday evening to join a session hosted by Harrogate Writers’ Circle. Tutor Della Galton, top right and long known to me from Swanwick (Writers’ Summer School),  thoroughly deserves her reputation as the ‘Queen of Short Story Writing’ and was as entertaining and informative as ever. With other Swanwickers also on screen, it was the closest I’ve been to a proper meet up for far too long. Thank you, HWC, for sending me the invitation.

The two hours passed swiftly and, although the evening was a hot one, I managed to complete the writing exercise Della set us. It was amazing what the others came up with in such a short time (six minutes) and their ‘opening paragraphs’ were many and various. Mine, I confess, was somewhat tongue in cheek, but it gave everyone a laugh.

23 June, 2022 There is one comment on this story

First presentation since before lockdown!

 

It gave me enormous pleasure to speak to Ripon Writers’ Group, currently approaching its 40th anniversary, on the subject of writing ‘fillers’. Having been a member for around half that time, I didn’t even consider charging a fee for the presentation, but it feels now as though my wheels are back in motion.

The little handbook has always been my best seller and earned squillions for readers who’ve followed its advice. The market changes, but the principles remain pretty much the same.

22 June, 2022 Make the first comment on this story

RIP Helen Sant

It’s always sad to lose a friend and particularly shocking when that friend appears to be in the prime of life and is then suddenly gone. 

I first met the multi-talented Helen Sant when we were co-contributors to York Tales (2004), a collection inspired by the Canterbury Tales. In the photo above, Helen is the glamorous figure on the front row and her contribution was ‘The Story-Teller’s Tale’.  On re-reading it just now, I’m more convinced than ever that ‘Eve’ is a thinly disguised version of Helen herself. Not only was she a great story-teller, though, but also a poet, novelist, actor, playwright, performance artist, stand up comedian and expert guide to York’s spookier places.  

Helen’s departure has left a big hole in the literary scene of the city, but her memory is sure to linger on and, who knows, maybe not only her memory. 

 

15 June, 2022 Make the first comment on this story

Write-On-Ripon! Unleashed 3

Our open mic sessions at the Curzon have become a regular feature of Ripon’s cultural calendar and here I am again in its ‘cavern of creativity’. It’s a joy to gather so many writers under one roof and hear an eclectic mix of poetry and prose. Anyone unused to performing in public can expect a very supportive audience and the proximity of the bar is another bonus!

On this occasion, I chose to read three poems and a piece of flash fiction from my ‘Anyone For Murder?’ collection.   

With the Platinum Jubilee and Ripon Theatre Festival both taking place in June, we’ve decided that Write-On-Ripon! Unleashed 4 will take place on Thursday, 7th July.  Posters will be appearing shortly.

30 May, 2022 There are 2 comments on this story

Reviewing the situation…

Well, reviewing ‘Oliver’, actually. It’s always a relief to see a piece only lightly edited when it appears in the press and makes sitting up into the early hours to meet the deadline very well worthwhile.

In this case, I was particularly happy to volunteer my services and very much enjoyed attending the dress rehearsal in order to get the review written in time to help with marketing the show. It’s been 16 years since I trod the boards with RAOS (as one of the mamas in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’) and almost as long since I helped out backstage as a chaperone, but I have very fond memories of the people I worked with at that time and the fun we had. Quite a few of them are in the current show and it was good to see them again.

21 April, 2022 Make the first comment on this story

The Stray Ferret

The Stray Ferret isn’t, as some people believe on first sight, an animal charity. It’s an excellent media outlet for local news – local being Harrogate (hence the Stray) and district. With Ripon situated only eleven miles from Harrogate, we get a good amount of exposure and our local correspondent, Tim Flanagan, has done me proud this time.

19 April, 2022 Make the first comment on this story

A very happy Easter to all my readers!

Tulips from Amsterdam? Well, not exactly, but the Delft vase they’re standing in was bought over 50 years ago for my mother. She loved it and so do I, as it’s very much associated with my memories of happy times spent in the Netherlands.

By coincidence, my latest published story also features flowers. Inspired by news stories of individuals and groups taking it upon themselves to beautify neglected areas, I wrote about two doughty retired gentlemen’s transformation of a derelict ginnel/alley/snicket (or whatever you call it in your part of the world) for the benefit of their community. 

Baffled by the accompanying illustration? Well, so was I, but that is none of my doing. Once a story is sold, how it is presented is up to the editorial team. 

17 April, 2022 Make the first comment on this story

Write-On-Ripon! Unleashed 2

 

The second open mic evening in the Curzon Cinema’s ‘Cavern of Creativity’ went very well. Most of the people who came along were keen to read and – in the case of The Wandering Man – sing what they had been working on. A large glass of rosé inspired me to read a poem about the failures of Care in the Community as well as perform a comic number about an unfortunate encounter between an unpleasant young tourist and the Ripon Hornblower. (‘Gary and the Horn’ was written many years ago by the late David Andrews, a past member of Ripon Writers’ Group.)

 

 

I also took the opportunity to mention that, for the foreseeable future, any royalties from my ‘Had We But World Enough’ collection will be donated to a charity helping Ukrainians displaced from their homes. It can be downloaded from Amazon for considerably less than the price of a takeaway coffee.

6 April, 2022 Make the first comment on this story

Memories of Ukraine

 
Very saddened by the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine, I’ve just been looking at some photos of happier times. Aged nineteen, I joined a group of fellow students in an epic road trip that included two of the cities currently under attack. Above, you can see me (long hair and striped frock) gazing up at the Taras Shevchenko (poet and writer) monument in Kharkov/Kharkiv.
 
 
One of my happiest memories is of crossing the pedestrian suspension bridge in Kiev/Kyiv leading to the ‘island of recreation’.
 
 
Here are some of my friends enjoying a sunny afternoon on its beach. We were later joined by a group of young soldiers from the Red Army, all in uniform and anxious to remove their boots and foot wrappings. (No socks in those days!) Conversation was difficult, but there was a lot of laughter and swapping of souvenirs.
 
Not a religious person, I can’t promise to pray for peace, but I hope with all my heart that it will return, and very soon. In the meantime, I shall be donating all the royalties from my ‘Had We World Enough’ collection to a charity supporting suffering Ukrainians. 

4 March, 2022 Make the first comment on this story

A new opportunity for Ripon writers!

UPDATE

Delighted to say that the evening advertised below went very well, with about 30 people in attendance. Everyone who wished to read had the opportunity, some a couple of times, and there was a good variety of genres and themes. A similar event is now scheduled for Monday, 4th April.

 

Towards the end of last year I joined Write-On Ripon, a group that meets on Tuesday afternoons in the Hive café and this will be its first major event.

As the current Chair of Ripon Writers’ Group, I should like to stress that the groups are not in any way in competition with each other. The Open Mic night has been planned so as not to clash with the regular RWG meeting and anyone and everyone is welcome to take part.

5 February, 2022 Make the first comment on this story

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A working holiday in France for so little? “It sounds too good to be true,” says Daisy’s mother, but her warning falls on deaf ears.
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