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.