Sunday, 8 December 2013

Annual Presentation Evening 6 December

‘Our area is now a real centre for creative writing’ said Hastings Writers’ Group Chair Jill Fricker, as she welcomed members and their guests to the White Rock Hotel on Friday 6 December, for the Annual Presentation Evening.
     ‘This group is changing rapidly,’ Jill continued. ‘The standard of writing is at an all-time high, with at least five members having books published during the year. The group is now full, with 40 members, and more on the waiting list. Pleasingly, we are welcoming increasing numbers of local younger people who aspire to be serious published writers.’
     The night's first guest, Laura West, highlighted this new professional approach. Laura, from prestigious literary agents David Higham Associates in London, judged the short stories submitted for the Catherine Cookson Cup, the group’s premier competition.  She commented on the high standard of the stories, but also emphasised how the publishing world is changing. While there are still many opportunities for gifted new writers, as well as real talent, sound business sense and a large slice of luck are needed to navigate the new world of electronic publishing. She emphasised the importance of writing groups in encouraging and developing new writers, with chances to experiment with different genres of writing and, above all, constructive critique from supportive colleagues.
     Cup winner, long-term member and very talented writer Mike Walsh, particularly impressed Laura with his story ‘The Seventh Day’. Mike’s first published novel ‘The Innocence of Evil’, is currently selling well on Amazon.  Also placed were Carol Pullen, and new members Lee Owen and Marcia Woolf.
     To make a break from the prize-giving, everyone enjoyed a performance of ‘Forty-Two’, by Amanda Giles, the winner of the Ten-Minute Play competition held earlier in the year. The cast, group members Janet Kates and John Vallender, and two of Amanda’s talented sons, Dominic and Rory Giles, did a great job in bringing the play to life.
     Two successful authors – the group patron, Tamara McKinley, and Vice-Chair, Kate O’Hearn led the final part of the evening, the presentation of certificates to the winners of the group’s internal competitions. The person with the most wins or places in the competitions received the award of  ‘Writer of the Year’. This year’s winner, Stephanie Gaunt, is a newcomer to Hastings, in her second year of group membership. She collected her shield and certificates from Tamara McKinley.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Catherine Cookson Cup readings - Monday 25 November 2013

A large group of members gathered on Monday 25 to hear readings from the entries for our most prestigious competition, the Catherine Cookson Cup.  This competition, for a short story of up to 3000 words will be judged this year by literary agent Laura West from the prestigious David Higham Agency. Results will be announced at our Presentation Evening on 6 December.
The readings were, as ever, entertaining - and tantalising, as shortage of time meant that we only heard extracts from each story.
In addition, we heard good news from two of our members. Eileen Masters has published her long-awaited memoirs of her time in Afghanistan - 'Prayer for an Infidel', and KD Faerydae has published her first book - 'Hidden Magic'. Congratulations to both of them!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Play Competition Results - Monday 11 November

There was high drama at the meeting on Monday 11th November when we gathered to hear the results of our play-writing competition. This time, our guest judge was award-winning playright and adapter Shaun McKenna, who has written for radio, television and the West End stage, including the book for the musical 'Lord of the Rings'. When Shaun shared some of his own experiences with us, we fully appreciated how hard the life of a creative professional actually is. He then gave us some valuable hints and tips with us before discussing our own plays.
Shaun was very complimentary about our efforts, and said that despite the fact that writing a ten-minute play was a particularly hard task, all entries had genuine merit. The eventual results were: Highly Commended, Marcus Towner with 'Marshall's Law', fourth, Roz Balp with 'Life is Sweet', third, Janet Kates and 'Trium', second, Marcia Woolf with 'Small Change'. Our judge was impressed by the way Marcia had managed to progress the action in her play despite the characters having bags over their heads! In first place was Amanda Giles, with 'Forty-Two'. Shaun said he would not have changed a word of this play. The winning entry will be performed by the Hastleons at our Presentation Evening on 6 December.

Monday, 4 November 2013

David Buchan Journalism Competition Results - Monday 28 October 2013

It was Results Night again for the group on Monday 28 0ctober, when we met to hear the results of the David Buchan journalism competition.
     Our judge was former member and professional journalist Angela Everitt.  Angela gave us some valuable hints and tips about how to make an article appealing and readable, and then announced the results.
     In fourth place was Rosemary Bartholomew, with 'Sorry For Any Inconvenience', an entertaining, and so true, piece about the frustrations of dealing with utility companies.  Third was Stephanie Gaunt with the topical 'Hastings to Bexhill Link Road', In second place was Marcia Woolf, with 'The Squeezed Middle Ages', an unusual piece about the plight of middle-aged people, trapped between the demands of elderly parents and their still-dependent adult children. The winner was Jill Fricker, with a passionate piece about a very topical issue: 'The Bedroom Tax'.
     Hastings Writers' Group meets fortnightly at the White Rock Hotel.  The group is currently fully subscribed, but if you would like to know more about our activities or to be put on our membership waiting list, please email or telephone Stephanie Gaunt on 01424 252888.
     Our current anthology 'Animal Writes', which benefits RSPCA Bluebell Ridge and also Dogs for the Disabled, is available, price £6.99, from Bookbusters in Queens Road, Hastings, or it can be purchased on-line from our website,  You can also find our page on Facebook.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

AGM and Programme Planning - 14 October 2013

It was business time for the group on Monday October14 – our AGM and Annual Programme Planning meeting. At the AGM, our Chair, Jill Fricker, reported that it had been a very successful year for the group, with a new website, a new anthology, and a record number of new members joining. Attendances at meetings were also at record levels. In part, this was due to our recruitment of new, professional judges for our internal competitions.  She thanked the Committee for their hard work, giving a particular mention to Amanda Giles who was standing down. The Finance Report from our Treasurer, Pauline Piper was also favourable – the group has built up a good level of reserves and is now able to subsidise further professional judges and workshop facilitators.  The Committee for 2014 will be Jill Fricker: Chair, Kate O’Hearn: Deputy Chair, Pauline Piper: Treasurer, Stephanie Gaunt: Publicity and Membership Officer, Janet Kates: Minutes Secretary, and the newly-elected Mike Rayner as Programmes Officer.
    The group then turned its attention to planning its programme for 2014, including agreeing the nature and number of competitions we wanted, and also workshop topics.  It was agreed that as we now have nearly forty members, events involving small group work would be good to enable members to get to know each other. 2014 looks to be another exciting year for the group!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Hidden Gems results - 30 September 2013

Autumn was in the air when we met on Monday 30 September, for the results of our ‘Hidden Gems’ competition. This, new in our programme for 2013, is specifically for new writers, and people who for whatever reason, have not been placed in a HWG competition during the last two years. As ever, a good variety of stories were entered.  Our judge, former English Literature lecturer Dr. Elizabeth Allen, is a long-standing favourite with the group. She is very knowledgeable, very well-read, and has a real love of the English language.  After talking us through the entries, she announced the results. In fourth place was Alex Willis, with ‘George’, which he told us was the first chapter of his forthcoming novel.  Third was Janet Kates, with her story, ‘The Class’, about murder and mayhem in a creative writing class. Second was Mike Rayner, with the introspective, beautifully written  ‘Happy Birthday’. The winner was Marcia Woolf, a relatively new member. Her story, ‘Like Father, Like Son’ was picked out by our judge for its excellent use of language, combined with a tightly-structured plot about a death and a family funeral.
     As well as the competition results, the group had its first sight of our new anthology, Animal Writes, which will be available for sale at the Books Born in Hastings event in the Town Hall on 12 October. The book features a new Pegasus story by Kate O’Hearn. We also looked at, and enjoyed the new book smell of another new publication – ‘The Alphabet King’, by Kate Errington. Well done Kate!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Flash Fiction Results: 23 September 2013

We had an extra meeting on Monday 23 September for the results of our Flash Fiction competition.  One of our star members, best-selling children’s author Kate O’Hearn had pulled some strings in the publishing world to get us two special judges. Paul Stark, from Orion publishers, and Nicola Crossley from Random House gave us the benefit of their expertise as well as judging a record number of entries to the competition. Needless to say, the room in the White Rock Hotel was absolutely packed with enthusiastic HWG members.
     The results of the competition were as follows. Highly Commended were Anne Hooker with ‘The Diet’, and Roz Balp with ‘Sea Washed’. Stephen Martin was in fourth place with ‘Love Expired’. Third was Diana Lock with ‘Delacroix and Dumas’, and second, Emma Boyd with a moving and poignant piece, ‘Baby Items for Sale’.  The popular winner was long-standing member John Vallender with the shortest piece entered for the competition, ‘Don’t Look Down’, about steeplejack Fred Dibnah.
     The judges commented on the difficulty of producing a high-quality flash fiction piece, where a story has to be produced in 250 words or less. They felt that many of the entries were of a high quality, but left the reader wanting more, whereas the winning pieces were complete in themselves.
     In addition to the competition results we were treated to cakes from Anne Hooker, who was celebrating a milestone birthday the next day!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Stage Struck.... 16 September 2013

Our meeting began with announcements from the Chair. The Love Cafe poetry event had been a great success and generated interest from several potential new members who had come along to meet us.
HWG will be at the Books Born in Hastings event on Saturday 12thOctober. Our new anthology ‘Animal Writes’ will be available, along with previous publications including ‘Strandline’. Books written by members will also be available on the day and Anne Hooker will be there with her recently published anthology ‘Inspiration’.
The remainder of the evening was devoted to the entries of our Mini-Play competition. As always with HWG the scope of the plays was broad. We had comedy, tragedy, drama and science fiction: tales of engineering apprentices in the 1970s; small scary, hairy creatures using writers to escape their dying planet; a young man searching for his Comanche roots; dodgy dealings and a robbery in London; the unexpected result of a meditation and sequins; a thoughtful before, during and after life experience and a nineteenth century who-done-it.

Friday, 6 September 2013

David Buchan journalism entries - 2 September 2013

Having missed a meeting during August, it felt distinctly like the start of the new ‘term’ as we met on Monday 2 September. This time, we presented our entries for the David Buchan journalism competition. This is annually in memory of one of our most popular members, the late David Buchan, well-respected Fleet Street journalist.  As ever, there were entries on a wide variety of topics – starting with the Hastings to Bexhill Link Road, greeted by groans of despair by all present, via the ‘squeezed middle’ – aged, via cooking, privatizing the Post Office, nuclear tests in Australia, waiting rooms, complaints to the Bedroom Tax.  As ever, our judge will have a hard time!
We welcomed another three prospective members of the group – we have been delighted with current levels of interest in joining the group, particularly from younger people.
Congratulations to our Chair, Jill Fricker, who has just won a National Association of Writers’ Groups short story competition

Monday, 12 August 2013

'Hidden Gems' Competition entries - for new and under-valued writers, 29 July 2013

For the last of our July meetings, on Monday 29th, we listened to some of the entries for yet another competition ‘Hidden Gems’. This is a new addition for our calendar, a competition specifically intended for members who have never won, or been placed, in a HWG competition since January 2012. The idea was to encourage some of our new members and less experienced writers, and also to give a ‘boost’ to some of our more experienced writers where, for whatever reason, their work had not caught the attention of the judges in recent months. Entrants read the first two hundred words of their story to the group, who then commented and made suggestions, if appropriate, as to how the piece might be yet further improved. As ever, we had a good range of entries and a wide range of topics – from the macabre, via the domestic, to comedy.
Once again we welcomed a new member – the fourth this month, which is pleasing, and a prospective member.
Finally, we also had a look at some artwork for the cover of our forthcoming ‘Animal Writes’ anthology

Monday, 22 July 2013

Flash Fiction Entries on a hot night: 15 July 2013

Hastings was basking in the heat on Monday 15 July as a large group of members gathered to present their entries for our latest Flash Fiction competition. The task was to create a complete story in 250 words, and the challenge was clearly popular.  As the stories were short, we had the unaccustomed pleasure of hearing everyone read their complete pieces, and as ever, there were an enormous variety of styles, themes and topics.  Our members are quite fond of dark deeds, disaster and general mayhem – the total body count for the stories was alarmingly high…. We finished the evening with an informal discussion about where we liked to write – locations varied from on the sofa in front of the telly via the utility room in the company of the boiler to a purpose-built log cabin.
     We were glad to welcome two new members to the group, and another prospective member attended the meeting as a ‘taster’.  We also heard that one of our members, Kate Giles, has finally clinched a big publishing deal for her childrens’ books – in Norway.  Her work is to be issued as hard copy, e-book and audio-book in August.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Poetry Competition Results, 1 July 2013

The room was packed for the results of the Poetry Competition on Monday 1 July, with our guest judge, Hastings-born poet Richard Evans. One of the most well-respected young poets working today, Richard has published two collections of poems, and is working on his third. It was a very poetic evening - the group heard that that our Chair, Jill Fricker, has just been awarded a prestigious Bare Hands International Poetry Prize for 2013, and we also welcomed Yvonne Rees, from Arts Forum Poets, as a guest to our meeting.
Richard read us a selection of his poems before reviewing the entries. He said that the standard of entries was high, and main criteria he had used to judge the poems was how easy he had found it to experience the world of the writer. In fourth place was Marcus Towner, with his vivid ‘Obadiah’s Observations. Marcus told us that he now has an up-comiing ‘gig’ to perform as Obadiah. One of our newest members, Rachel Marsh, was third, with ‘Lanterns in the Cottage’, about smugglers in Hastings. In second place was our star poet, Jill Fricker. Her haunting piece, ‘On Meeting’, was about the birth of a child. In first place, much to her surprise, was Steph Gaunt, with ‘Writers’ Block’. Richard felt that this poem had painted a particularly accessible picture of the writer’s world, and the place of poetry within that world.
Following the judging, Richard shared some thoughts with us about the place of rhyme in poetry.
At the meeting, we welcomed one new member and one prospective member. We heard about the new website, and the Amazon success of Mike Walsh's 'The Music of Melancholy'.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Manuscript Evening with Tamara McKinley: 17 June 2013

It was a nail-biting time for three of our newer members at our meeting on Monday 17 June.  The Group’s Patron, best-selling author Tamara McKinley, had paid us a visit to have a look at some of our work in progress. She had specifically asked to see work from new writers, to make the best use of her time, experience and expertise. Tamara has a straight and forthright approach, but fortunately she clearly thought the three pieces had promise. All the writers were initially given specific pointers about the standard of presentation a publisher’s editor would expect – learning points for all of us.
First up was Rachel Marsh, with a chapter from her historical novel ‘Lanterns in the Cottage’, about smuggling in Hastings. We all enjoyed this piece, and Tamara gave Rachel some interesting advice on how to hook her readers in at the start of her story. Next, Diana Lock with an extract from ‘Identity Crisis’, a chilling science-fiction work set in a dystopian future. Again, we were all gripped by this, and Tamara clearly felt it had considerable promise. Finally, Emma Boyde with the prologue to a novel ‘Tomb’. Again, Tamara helped Emma to see how she could rework her material to ensure that her readers were hooked in to the story from the first paragraph. As writers, we all benefit enormously from manuscript evenings – the lessons learned are totally applicable to our own work. We were grateful to Tamara for giving up her time.
We were pleased to welcome no less than three prospective new members to our meeting – we hope they will have enjoyed themselves sufficiently to join us on a permanent basis. However, on a slightly less positive note, we were sad to hear that long-standing member Richard Holdsworth had decided to resign from the group. His regular members’ Newsletters will be missed.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Poetry Entries - Monday 3 June 2013

Our meeting on Monday 3 June started with the sharing of exciting news: several of us are in the process of having work published for the first time, including one of our most talented writers, Mike Walsh, and newer member Kate Giles – more on this to come. Our Chair, Jill Fricker, has just had a poem shortlisted for a major competition, and acclaimed children’s writer Kate O’Hearn is enjoying great success with her latest novel ‘Valkyrie’ – she has just returned from a book promotion tour to the West Country. Finally, long-serving member Anne Hooker is also pleased with the success of her book, ‘Inspired’, an anthology produced to benefit Stoke Mandeville Hospital. 
     The main business of the evening was to hear the entries for our current competition – producing a rhyming poem of up to forty lines.  As ever, the entries were of a high standard, ranging from the passionate to the comic, with topics ranging from Hastings smugglers via childbirth and hens to writers’ block. The highlight of the evening was a poem presented as a piece of performance art, ‘Obadiah’s Observations’, by Marcus Towner.  Our judge will have a hard job deciding on a winner.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Manuscript Evening: 13 May 2013

Give a monkey a typewriter, and in an infinite amount of time, it would produce the complete works of Shakespeare…..a familiar saying, but an alarming notion for us writers. At our meeting on Monday 13 May we had an opportunity to get inside the head of one such monkey, in a fascinating story from new member Mike Rayner.  His story ‘The Creator’ was one of three pieces presented to us at one of our regular Manuscript evenings, where group members critique and discuss their colleagues’ work in progress. We also heard, and discussed, an extract from Eileen Masters’ true-life account of her experiences in Afghanistan. This work is now nearly complete, and we eagerly await its publication.  Our third piece was from Amanda Giles – the opening chapter of her new novel, ’Moondance’, set in the flamboyant performing arts world of the 80’s.  Members value and welcome the feedback on their work they receive at these sessions, although it can be a daunting process for newcomers.
    We also heard that the programme of meetings for the second half of 2013 was ready for issue to members – we have secured the services of a number of new judges for our internal competitions, and the winning play from our playwriting competition is to be performed by the Hastleons in December.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Crime Results with Catherine Smith: 22 April 2013

On Monday 22 April we gathered to hear the results of our most recent competition – writing a short crime story.  Our judge, Catherine Smith, had judged competitions for the group before. She now teaches Creative Writing for New Writing South, based in Brighton, and also for the Arvon Foundation. Catherine told the group that the entries were of a high standard, and that we had some talented writers among our membership. She was impressed with our appetite for bloodthirsty tales! A good crime story needs strong, believable characters, a plot that moves along briskly, and an effective use of setting and location.
     Having commented on all the entries, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses, Catherine singled out three for special commendation: ‘A Respectable Death’, by Stephen Martin, ‘The Silent Assassin’ by Marcus Towner, and ‘A Place of Annihilation’ by Mike Walsh.  She then moved on to the four winners. In fourth place was Eileen Masters with ‘This is where I dies’, a gripping monologue story based on a real Old Bailey case.  John Vallender was third with ‘No comment’, a tightly plotted and gripping account of a domestic murder. In second place was Jill Fricker with ‘Tweeting from Pretoria’, an unusual story set in contemporary South Africa, with overtones of Jack and the Beanstalk.  In first place was Steph Gaunt, with ‘A kitten vanishes’.  Steph’s story was about an older woman, a wronged wife attempting to take revenge on her husband and his new family, and Catherine was impressed with its emotional depth as well as the quality of the writing.
     In addition to the competition results, members were told that the title of the 2013 group animal themed anthology was, by popular vote, ‘Animal Writes’.  Thanks were expressed to Roz Balp, who thought of the idea.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Creativity Workshop with Stephanie Gaunt: 8 April 2013

On Monday 8 April members gathered for a Creativity Workshop, led by HWG Committee member Stephanie Gaunt, who ran a management consultancy company in a previous life. Steph encouraged everyone to discuss how they got their inspiration and how they motivated themselves to sit down and write, and what tips they could offer their colleagues. In addition, we discussed why coming to a writers’ group is helpful. Members felt that as well as the company of like-minded people, the group provided structure, and opportunities to try out different styles of writing and different techniques.
     As a creative writing exercise, members were each given a lucky ‘hag’ stone with a hole in, from the beach, and each person composed a haiku about their stone. The winner was Anne Hooker
     This year, the group is putting together an anthology of short pieces about animals, part of the profits from which will benefit animal charities. At the meeting, members voted on their favourite charities, and also discussed their preferred title for the new publication. Results will be announced shortly.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Crime Story Entries:25 March 2013

It was yet another cold night on Monday 25th March, but the Hastings Writers’ Group soon generated some warmth with our entries for our current competition. This time, we had been asked to write a crime story, and members read out extracts from their entries at the meeting. Murder seemed to be the most popular theme – settings included ancient Rome, a dystopian world of the future, Cornwall – and Bulverhythe Beach.  We had several killers – including Ruth Ellis – sitting in their prison cells pondering on the nature of their crimes. Going from the bloodthirsty to the other end of the spectrum, we also heard about the theft of a kitten, and some very strange goings-on in South Africa that had something to so with Jack and the Beanstalk. As ever, our judge will have a hard job.
     Also, on the night, long-standing group member Anne Hooker brought us cakes to celebrate the publication of her book ‘Inspired’. This is a moving collection of thoughts, prayers and poems that have inspired famous people, and is intended to raise funds Stoke Mandeville Hospital. The book is now available on Amazon, or directly from Anne at

Friday, 1 March 2013

Memoir Results with Andrea Samuelson: 25 February 2013

At our meeting on 25 February we welcomed Andrea Samuelson, one of our favourite external experts, to judge our Memoir writing competition. A former member of the group, Andrea is now a successful published author and teaches creative writing locally.  Her task this time was formidable. She had to read, analyse and comment individually on 23 entries – a record for one of our internal competitions.
     In addition, as Andrea commented before announcing the winners, life writing is far harder than it looks.  We think it will be easy to write about ourselves, but, as most of us discovered, it is hard to bring our own ‘voices’ to life. Many of us had not tried life-writing before, and found the exercise opened doors to memories and feelings we may never have fully explored. As ever, Andrea’s sensitive and thoughtful feedback was both illuminating and instructive.
     From a very strong field, the eventual winners were: in fourth place John Cole, with ‘Memories of a Great White Dope’, an account of his experiences in a tough American boxing gym. Third was Mike Walsh with the moving – and raunchy – ‘The Wine of Life’, describing his relationship with his elderly father. Richard Holdsworth was in second place with his piece about being an evacuee, ‘The Scorecard’, and the winner was Eileen Masters, with the vivid ‘A Strange Place to Picnic’, about her experiences in Afghanistan.
     In addition to the competition feedback, we also heard about plans for a 2013 group anthology, with a focus on animal tales. Profits from this will be shared with selected charities.  Members were asked to volunteer to help edit the new book.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Strandline, our 2012 Anthology, now on sale!

Our 2012 Group Anthology, Strandline, has just gone on sale in Waterstones in Hastings. 220 pages of great reading, giving an excellent idea of what a writers' group can do. Priced at £8.50.
If you live outside Hastings, please send us your contact details via the website, and we will arrange for you to buy a copy.

Manuscript Evening with Kate O'Hearn: 11 February 2013

It was another busy evening for the Group on Monday 11 February, with again, very good attendance.  We started with a treat. Marcus Towner read us his winning entry for the 2012 Catherine Cookson Cup, our major annual short story competition. ‘Perhaps an Indian Summer’ is a gentle and evocative love story – an ideal topic with Valentine’s Day so close.  Following that relaxing interlude, it was down to work – a session on how to get the best from our Manuscript Evenings, led by Kate O’Hearn with help from Stephanie Gaunt. Firstly, we talked about how best to express our comments to our colleagues, to enable them to take on board what we say. Next, we looked at the presentation, style and content of people’s writing, and the areas we could usefully address. Kate reminded us that everyone’s view was both valid and valuable. We are all readers as well as writers, and all have a feel for what works for us as individuals.
     Next, two people courageously presented extracts from their work in progress, so we could practice our new skills. Maurice Haken took us through a new short story ‘A rewarding Co-incidence’, and new member Kate Giles presented an extract from a historical novel she is currently working on. Both pieces generated much lively discussion.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Meeting Report - Monday 28 January 2013

We had an exceptionally busy evening on Monday 28 January
    Well over twenty members braved the lashing rain to present their entries for our first internal competition of the year – Memoir Writing. Everyone had a chance to read out a sample of their work, and it was fascinating to gain insights into such an astonishing variety of lives. The extracts were in turn inspiring, funny, poignant, intriguing – and raunchy. Amongst other things, we heard about a love for music, an irrational fear of bandages, a trip in a runaway car, being a VIP cab driver, house moves, ‘Bob a Job’, schooldays, fostering adolescents, boxing, being an army child, fraught holidays, working in a casino, and many strange family secrets… The entries now go off to our judge, former group member and creative writing tutor Andrea Samuelson. We hope she enjoys reading them as much as we obviously enjoyed writing them.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Meeting Report - Monday 14 January 2013

On Monday 14 January we met for our first meeting of 2013. Attendance was excellent – clearly members were anxious to beat the January blues and get their creative writing brains into gear.  
     One of our resident star authors, Kate O’Hearn, author of a number of best-selling novels for young people including the ‘Pegasus’ series, led a workshop on how to present our work to a publisher.
     Kate used her own latest book, ‘Valkyrie’ as an example, showing us the different stages from submission of initial synopsis to readying the work for publication. Most important, she highlighted key success factors and warned us of potential pitfalls.
     We very much appreciated Kate’s efforts, and her honesty in sharing the ups and downs of a writer’s life with us. Hopefully, we all gained some valuable insights.
     In addition to the workshop, the group heard a short presentation on progress towards our new website, from our Publicity Officer, Stephanie Gaunt, and also discussed a possible reciprocal arrangement with another Writers’ Group, initiated by member Richard Holdsworth.