Friday, 30 November 2012

Meeting Report: Monday 26 November 2012

Our last proper meeting of 2012, on Monday 26 November, was very busy, and very well attended.  Firstly, Julie Brett, Fundraiser from Demelza, one of the charities we support, gave us a short presentation of the work of the charity, and collected the final cheque for sales of our 2007 publication ‘Diamonds’. The total raised is now a pleasing £3,150.
Next, we heard the results of our recent journalism competition, held in memory of long-standing member and award-winning Fleet Street journalist David Buchan, who sadly died last year.  We were pleased to welcome David’s widow Anne to the meeting.  To start the proceedings, a friend and former colleague of David, Richard Holdsworth, read out a short piece celebrating his life. Our judge, group member and journalist Angela Everitt, then took us through the results.  She said all entries had been of a high standard, and it had been hard to choose the winners. Highly commended was John Cole, with ‘Barack Obama versus the Flip-Flop Man’, and in fourth place, Ron (Nick) Nicola, with ‘Memories of the Second Parachute Regiment’. Third was Rosemary Bartholomew, with a lively piece with a local slant, ‘The Uniform Debate’. In second place, Steph Gaunt, with another topical piece about a local issue, ‘Hastings Recycling falls short’, and the winner was Jill Fricker with the excellent ‘Paved with Gold? The Olympic Legacy in Tower Hamlets’.  Jill received a bottle of wine from Anne Buchan as her prize. 
For the last part of our evening, Angela, our judge, delivered a brief workshop on how to write a good article.  All thanks to Angela for her efforts.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Meeting Reports 1 October to 12 November 2012

     Monday 12 November

     Time goes so quickly! When we met on Monday 12 November, it was hard to believe it was our final Manuscript Evening of the year.  Four members took the opportunity to present their work for us to discuss.  First off was new member Diana Lock, with an extract from her new work ‘White Footsteps’.  This was a spooky piece, much appreciated by the group.  Second, another new member, Peter Stachini, presented a radio play, ‘The Body’. We always enjoy plays, because it gives us a chance to read the parts aloud.  Finally, two well-established members, Richard Holdsworth and Pauline Piper, took us through their pieces, ‘The One and Only Viv the Spiv’, and ‘Driven to Kill’.
All four pieces were very different, and all four presenters received valuable feedback, constructive criticism and suggestions from the group.  Richard told us that ‘Old Soldier’, a piece he had presented at a previous Manuscript Evening, had subsequently been accepted for publication by ‘This England’ magazine.
Members were reminded to get tickets for our gala Presentation Evening, which takes place on 7 December this year, with our Patron, Tamara McKinley.  We were also issued with our programmes of activity for the first half of 2013 – a writer’s work never stops!
Monday 29 October
At our last meeting on 29th October, extracts from entries for our annual Catherine Cookson Cup short story competition were read out. An open theme and maximum 3000 word limit gave the 12 entrants the opportunity to choose what they wanted to write about and most made full use of the word allowance to develop their stories. As usual these covered a wide range of topics and made enjoyable listening. They will be judged by our patron, novelist Tamara McKinley, who will deliver the results and award the Cup at our Annual Presentation Evening in December.
      A warm welcome was extended to four  potential new members who had come along by arrangement to see what our meetings (and members!) are like.
      We held our successful yearly Charity Quiz at the comfortable CafĂ© des Arts on 26th October, which stimulated some of our brains into action and was hugely enjoyed by all. The prize money always goes to the charity of the winning team's choice and this year the nominated beneficiaries were the local Association of Carers, with CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) receiving a share of the profits.
     Monday 15 October
On Monday 15 October, it was time for us to get the results of our ‘Writing for Children’ competition. Our judge this time was our own Kate O’Hearn.  As Vice-Chair of the Group, Kate is one of our most loyal supporters.  She is the author of seven (nearly eight) published children’s novels, including the highly successful ‘Pegasus’ series.
Kate had plenty of hard-hitting advice for would-be authors, and valuable insights about what publishers look for. This included making sure our dialogue was age-appropriate, and the importance of ‘hitting the ground running’ with our stories, to engage children’s attention.
As ever, the standard of entries was high, and Kate had a hard job to choose the eventual winners. Highly commended were Charlie Menzinger with ‘Making Mischief’ and Stephen Martin with ‘Zombiana Bones’.  In third place was Mark Towner with a science fiction story, ‘Callie’. Rosemary Bartholomew was second with ‘Changes’, her story of contemporary marriage breakdown.  In first place was Mike Walsh, with an absolutely terrifying tale, ‘Dick Ears and the String Bean Creeper’.  When we all emerged from our hiding places under the table, Kate assured us that children enjoyed being scared.
On a different theme, we heard about two competition successes. Ron (Nick) Nicola had won second place in the HRVAB annual Memories writing competition for his story ‘Wayward Memories’, and Steph Gaunt had won the Daily Telegraph ‘Just Back’ travel writing competition with a piece about buffalo mozzarella, melons and ancient architecture.
 Monday 1st October 

We held our 2012 Annual General Meeting and our Programme Planning Meeting for next year on Monday 1 October. The Chairperson, Jill Fricker, reported on a lively and successful year for the group, which continues to thrive and grow. Some changes to the Committee were agreed. Our Programme Secretary, Rosemary Bartholomew, has decided to step down after many years' stalwart service. We fear she will be irreplaceable, but fortunately she will be staying on until the end of the year to pass on her vast fund of experience and knowledge. We welcomed one newcomer, Steph Gaunt, who will take on the post of Publicity Officer.

     The second half of the meeting was devoted to a lively discussion about what we wanted to see in our programme of meetings for next year.  The views of members were noted by the Committee, and we hope all the ideas and wishes will be reflected in the programme we produce - acknowledging we cannot please everyone all of the time!