Monday, 24 November 2014

Catherine Cookson Entries – 24 November, 2014

At the end of the year, our focus was on beginnings, and in our meeting on 24 November, we read the first 1000 words of our Catherine Cookson Cup entries – the group's annual 3000-word short story competition. As always, there was a variety of genres, including adventure, mystery, humour, crime and ghost stories. Settings spanned a hospital, a Marrakesh hotel and a cottage plagued by dark demons. These were populated by a diverse cast of characters, such as a foreign prince, a London bag lady and a destructive dog. As we listened, we pondered how other members had tackled the thorny issue of hooking the reader into their stories, and in the final 15 minutes, we all worked in pairs to put our ponderings into practice by extrapolating an opening paragraph from a sentence suggested by our Chair.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Radio Play Results - 10th November, 2014

On Monday 10 November, the award-winning playwright, Shaun McKenna visited to give his feedback on our 10-minute radio play competition and to announce the winners.

As previously, Shaun gave very constructive, supportive comments. He also played extracts from his own recent radio drama, 'Home Front', to illustrate his points on how to delineate character, create setting and move the plot forward in natural ways, appropriate for radio.

Marcia Woolf was fourth with 'Crossed Lines'; then there was barely a whisker between third and second place, with Shaun basing his eventual decision on personal preference, so 'Strangeness on a Train' by Vicky Armstrong was in third place with second going to Roz Balp's 'Lost and Found'. However, the clear winner was 'All Those Heavenly Fowls' by Jill Fricker, which Shaun said was ready for immediate broadcast!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Hidden Gems and other things - October 2014

October has been a busy month for the group.
     On 13 October we met to hear the results of our 'Hidden Gems' Competition, for new writers who have not otherwise been placed in our internal competitions.  Our judge was one of our favourites, the extremely knowledgeable Dr Elizabeth Allen. In fact, she has enjoyed her work with the group so much, she has now joined as a member.  As the entry to the competition was relatively small, we decided to award only first and second places. In second place was John Taylor with 'Loved Ones', and the winner was new member Vicky Armstrong with 'Mr Hat'.

     27 October saw our annual AGM and Programme Planning Session. The big news this year was that Jill Fricker, our popular Chair, was standing down to concentrate on her developing creative writing work, and there are other changes in the Committee. Stephanie Gaunt is standing down, as is Marcia Woolf who has been an interim member of the committee for the last few months.  We actually had a contested election for the Chair, the first in the group's history, and Eileen Masters was chosen to succceed Jill. The rest of the Committee members are Kate O'Hearn, new Treasurer Samantha Davey, Janet Kates, Elizabeth Allen and Roz Balp, who is returning to the committee after a few years' break.
     In her final Chair's report, Jill said that 2014 had been another successful year for the group. Our new website had brought in numbers of new members and raised our profile. Our membership was consistently at its upper limit with a waiting list, and the healthy state of our finances meant that we are able to invest still more in professional judges and tutors for our writers.
     The final part of the evening was given over to planning our programme for next year. Members were given a list of options to choose from, based on their responses to a questionnaire sent out earlier in this year. Thanks to Marcia Woolf for undertaking this task.
     Members were also able to see our award for 'Animal Writes', which recently won the National Association of Writers' Groups Anthology prize, and also to purchase copies of our new anthology 'Strandline 14' which showcases members' work.