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.

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