Tuesday, 18 December 2018

12 November 2018 - Wild Card Competition Results

Tonight members received the results of the wild card competition. In first place was
awarded to Vicky Armstrong for "Once Upon a Time in Africa". Sandra Daniels came
second with "Pause for Thought". Third place went to Sam Davey for "The
Lineaments of Desire", and fourth to Karina Evans for "All That Glitters’.

29 October 2018 - Catherine Cookson Entries Reading

Tonight members read their entries to the Catherine Cookson competition. As
always, the standard was extremely high and the range of subjects was vast. This
year members told tales featuring pirates, magicians and marmalade. Thought-
provoking issues, such as relationships, parenting and the privatisation of the post
office, were dealt sensitively.

15 October 2018 - Wild Card Entry Reading

This meeting saw the reading of the wild card competition entries. The competition
was to create a story in 10 tweets. It was generally agreed that members found this
to be one of the trickier competitions of the year. However, as always, they rose to
the challenge admirably.

1 October 2018 - Drama results

The results of the drama competition were announced tonight by our judge, actor
and writer, Christophe Philipps. First place was awarded to Maddie Blake for ‘To
Crown a King’, a clever piece about the burial of Richard III in a Leicester car park.
Second place when to Godfrey Forder for ‘Peterloo’. In third place was Roz Balp for
‘Ever Refused Admission’ and fourth place was taken by Vicky Armstrong with
‘Noblesse Oblige’.

17th September - Programme Planning

This evening members met to agree the programme planning for 2019. Voting took
place based on suggestions received from members. With the programme agreed,
members enjoyed a writing exercise organised by Kate O’Hearn. Using an opening
provided by Kate, members wove the props provided, including a hairdryer, fox,
smoke alarm and gas mask, into highly amusing, frequently hilarious, stories.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Crime Writing Workshop - 3 September 2018

Members enjoyed a very interesting talk from crime writer Robert Crouch this evening. Robert advised of the importance of being accurate when writing about, or relying on, police or legal procedures. He explained that, from his experience, the police are generally happy to provide information. We considered the almost endless ways to create our ‘investigator’ and how to exploit the special skills that their training, experience and profession offers. We concluded the meeting with a writing exercise, completing story ideas from an opening paragraph that Robert had created especially for the group. As always, members rose to the challenge, with an incredibly diverse range of weapons, sleuths, killers as well as alternative explanations for potentially incriminating evidence.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Meeting of 30th July - Literary Agent Louise Buckley

This evening we welcomed Louise Buckley, literary agent. Louise told us about her role and gave a lot of valuable advice based on her knowledge and experience. She explained that, in addition to promoting completed work, a literary agent will also act as a ‘manager’, offering mentoring and guidance to authors. Another important aspect of the role being ‘author expectation management’. Writers learnt about the importance of following presentation guidance when submitting work to agents and the potential benefits of having a strong social media presence. Louise answered our numerous questions and gave us a lot of extremely useful tips.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

16 July Meeting report: 'How To' Results

This week’s meeting saw the results of the competition to write a ‘How To’ guide. The competition was judged by John Dowling, previously a journalist with 48 years of experience at the Bexhill Observer. The results were as follows: In fourth place, Roz Balp, ‘Packing for a Budget Airline’; third place went to Maddie Blake, ‘How to Make Friends with the Stars’; second place went to Lorna Thompson ‘Chemo and the Disappearing Hair – a Black Woman’s Tale.’ Our winner was Godfrey Forder, with a charming and very fun guide on ‘How to Potter’.

2 July Meeting Report: Drama Workshop

This was a very enjoyable and interactive meeting. Members each brought in a short abstract of their own prose and took part in an exercise to convert their work into a dramatic piece. With guidance from Amanda Giles and Hilary Mackeldon, members considered how to prepare a scripts, including practical aspects such as staging instructions, dialogue, lighting and sound effects.

18 June Meeting Report - 'How to' entries

18th June saw the reading of the entries for our ‘How to’ guide competition. The meeting was hugely enjoyable and informative. Members left the White Rock Hotel with heads full of new information and new ideas. Most of us had certainly not previously given enough consideration to how important (and potentially expensive) it is to create just the right environment, including the hiring of a fen shui expert, for writing that novel. Nor had many of us realised the preparation needed to attend a comic convention safely and without embarrassing ourselves. We learned about picking locks, and how to pick a martial art. Probably not too late for some of us, we received advice on how to plan our first ‘grown up’ dinner party. There was also valuable, and hilarious, advice on how to train a dog, and also how to master the art of pottering. Other fascinating guides set out how best to pack for a budget airline, how to recycle or repurpose all manner of household items, how to make money from a spare room and how to choose a care home.

Friday, 11 May 2018

23 April 2018 - Critique workshop

In a very relaxed, interesting and useful workshop, members focussed on the giving and 
receiving of criticism. We considered the pros and cons of techniques such as the 
‘praise sandwich’. We also spoke about the delicate balance of offering feedback in a 
positive, supportive manner while still making it honest and helpful. Members took part 
in a practical activity, working together to critique stories written by unknown authors. 
This experience was aimed at strengthening the support for members to develop their 
writing skills, receive feedback and solve problems in their personal writing projects.  

9 April 2018 - Sci-fi Entries

Tonight we read our entries for the science fiction short story competition. In 2000 words
 members took us to outer space, back through time, and up the A21 to encounter chemically 
enhanced, floating traffic cones. We explored alternative energy sources obtained through 
crystals or the power of dreams, and plunged in to a world covered in water. We considered 
ethical issues, such as creating humans in laboratories, lethal injections and capitalising on 
the extinction of animal species. We also considered the dilemma of going to the bathroom 
leaving one wife in bed and returning to find a second, identical wife, sitting next to her. 
Assuming the world is not taken over by computers, or aliens….members will hear the 
competition results in a few weeks.

19 March 2018 - Poetry Results

Tonight members were very pleased to welcome back poet Kim Lasky, as the judge of our poetry competition. Kim had prepared a critique for each poem and these were shared with writers after each was read aloud to the group. Kim praised the standard of all entries. She explained that, although there was a great variety, she had been able to group them loosely into poems that focused on the art of writing, seasonal poems, protest poems and poems that dealt with loss or took us to different times or cultures. The results of the competition were as follows: Fourth, Liz Caluori ‘What a difference a day makes’; third, Roz Balp ‘Stork’s Flight’; second, Godfrey Forder ‘A load of old Pollocks’; and first, John Taylor ‘They are not missing they are here’.

5 March 2018 - Sci-Fi Wrtiting Workshop

This evening’s meeting was a sci-fi workshop. This was delivered by Simon Guerrier who writes sci-fi books, stories and articles, as well as for radio and TV, including writing for Dr Who. We learnt that the actual definition of what constitutes sci-fi is a hotly contested issue and heard about the differing views of the genre expressed by some well-known authors. Simon explained that there is also some dispute about the origins of sci-fi, encouraging us to consider the works of Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe. All members present were fascinated during the presentation and discussions, and engaged enthusiastically in an exercise to create stories from the headlines in the New Scientist. The workshop was particularly popular with one or two of the groups more science-focused members.

19 February 2018 - Writing for Children Workshop

Tonight’s meeting was a ‘change from the advertised…’ due to sickness. HWG deputy chair Kate O’Hearn stepped into the breech, bringing forward the delivery of her workshop on writing for children. Kate has had 15 books published in the 8+ age group. She was able to share a fascinating insight into her experience, including cautionary tales to help members who are aiming to follow in her footsteps to avoid some of the pitfalls. Members were able to ask questions and received some sage advice. In summary – for any member who was not able to attend – aim to keep the chapters short, kill as many adults as you like but don’t kill the kids and no kissing! The sci-fi writing workshop has been rescheduled until later in the programme.

Friday, 9 February 2018

5 January 2018 - Poetry entries

This was the first meeting lead by our new Chairperson, Amanda Giles. The meeting started with some information sharing and opinion gathering about ideas for enhancing elements of the organisation of the meetings and the activity programme. It was agreed that further evaluation, taking into account the views of all members, will take place over the coming weeks. This evening members read their entries to this years first competition - poetry writing. As always, the quality of writing was extremely high, and a broad and interesting range of subjects were featured. Members wrote about love, life, war, foreign lands and anarchic circus clowns. This was followed by a short writing activity. Each member selected a random word from a envelope and created a short poem using their word as inspiration. This was extremely successful and it was agreed that more activities of this kind should be considered for future meetings.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Annual Presentation Evening - Friday 8th December 2017

Our Annual Presentation Evening was a celebration of 70 years of the Hastings Writers' Group.  We had a delicious cake shaped to resemble what most of our writing desks look like, a fantastic buffet and awards were presented.  The 70th Anniversary book project, Imagine That! sold enough copies to donate money to charities: Dragonflies, Charity for Kids and The Oliver Curd Trust.  The Catherine Cookson cup was presented to Amanda Giles by our guest judge, Thorne Ryan.  The Writer of the Year award was presented by our patron Tamara McKinley to joint winners Roz Balp and Diana Lock.