Inaugural Retreat Success

Here’s our latest Chasing Time blog post following our first retreat last weekend, which went even better than we could have hoped for. We’ve already had three 5* reviews (which are included at the end of the post), and are looking forward to doing it all again in a few weeks time!

Source: Inaugural Retreat Success

Chasing Time Writing Retreats

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As per Sandra’s post on her own website, which I shared here earlier this month, I have more exciting news about the launch of our tutored residential writing retreats.  Two writing friends and I have set up Chasing Time Writing Retreats in a beautiful and quirky Scottish country house, and are excited to share our passion for writing with others. The programme is now up and running and we have taken our first bookings.

Having been lucky enough to go on various writing retreats myself, I know how valuable it can be to escape the everyday routines and commitments you may have at home, and be able to concentrate solely on developing your writing. In Rosely Country House Hotel, Arbroath, we have found the perfect place to host our retreats, with its uniquely atmospheric setting sure to provide writing motivation around every corner.

If this is the sort of thing that appeals, why not click on the link below and check out the rest of our website? We’d love to see you there. 🙂

Source: Retreats

Scottish Association of Writers Annual Conference 2017

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I’m just back from this year’s Scottish Association of Writers Conference at The Westerwood Hotel (@TheWesterwoodQ) in Cumbernauld. And what another fantastic weekend it has been! The SAW Council work hard to put on such a great event and this year we had the biggest turn out from our writing group, @AWCAngus since I started attending a few years ago. It’s so good to be able to spend more time with friends and get to know each other better, as well as just generally soak up the buzz of being in the company of like-minded people. The icing on the cake is that we again came away with some prizes and placings in the various competitions that are adjudicated over the weekend, including top prizes of The Dorothy Dunbar Rose Bowl for poetry for our Club Secretary, Sandra Ireland (author of ‘Beneath The Skin’), and The Constable Silver Stag for a General Novel to Pam Turner.

Last year I was lucky enough to win the beautiful T.C. Farries trophy for a Children’s Novel, and it was with a certain reluctance that I found myself packing it up in order to pass the baton. However the consolation was that this year it was awarded to fellow Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI) member, Sheila Adamson, so it was a bit like keeping it in the family.

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Apart from the competitions and the social side, there are a number of fantastic SAW workshops to attend, and my favourite two of the weekend were run by YA authors Keith Gray and Victoria Gemmell (another fellow SCBWI). Thank you both for being so lovely and helping to turn it into such a special weekend once again. I was also able to attend an outside workshop run by editor and literary consultant, Claire Wingfield (www.clairewingfield.co.uk) and between the three of them, have left feeling inspired and keen to get back to my own work in progress.

Our keynote speaker was the very funny Helen Lederer who rounded off a brilliant conference.

If you would like to know more about Angus Writers’ Circle you can follow us on Twitter @AWCAngus, and I hope your own writing is going well.

 

 

 

 

New Writing Prompt For February….

carnival mask

With apologies for the slightly late post, but I can now reveal that the writing prompt for February is ‘Carnival’, courtesy of last month’s winner,  lassfromlancashire.  She suggested that,  as Shrove Tuesday is this month and that is when there are pre-Lenten carnivals in some countries, the subject of  “Carnival” would be appropriate, however people wanted to interpret it.

I think that conjures up a host of possibilities and hope it sparks the creative process in those who may want to take part.

As such I welcome you to submit a piece of flash fiction (under 500 words) or poetry on ‘Carnival’ and I look forward to hopefully reading some lively entries.

The closing date for submissions will be the 24th of the month as usual, and you will be able to vote for your favourite between then and the end of the month, with the winner setting the writing prompt for March.

As always, good luck to all who enter :).

Voting for January is now open!

vote now

Voting for the first mini competition of 2015 is now open so please vote and ensure that your favourite wins.  (With only 3 entries, I can’t promise the excitement of the Greek elections, but I’ll do my best! 😉 )

As usual, voting will remain open until the end of the month and the winner will then get to set the next writing prompt.

Who will you vote for?

New Writing Prompt For January….

birds flying from tree

I hope, like me, you are eager to continue writing in 2015?  If so why not join in with this month’s mini writing competition to get those literary muscles working again, after what may well have been a somewhat saggy festive season?

Thank you to Jane Dougherty who has provided this month’s writing prompt of ‘In the bleak midwinter’, after taking inspiration from the Christina Rossetti poem.

As such I welcome you to submit a piece of flash fiction (under 500 words) or poetry on ‘In the bleak midwinter’ and I look forward to reading any entries which may come in over the course of the month.

The closing date for submissions will be the 24th of the month as usual, and you will be able to vote for your favourite between then and the end of the month, with the winner setting the writing prompt for February.

As always, good luck to all who enter :).

Happy New Writing Year!

new year

After a frenetic December, which all but disappeared in a blur, I am happy to be back and to wish you all the very best for 2015.  I hope you had a lovely festive season and have lots of plans for the new year.

What are your writing / reading ambitions?  Mine are to try to get a bit more structure in my writing life (and to that end it is fantastic that I can now finally see my desk again having just cleared it of wrapping paper, sellotape, cards, pens, lists, labels, and other festive remains – yesterday was my twins’ 7th birthday so we go right through!!)  I also aim to submit more work to magazines and to enter writing competitions, particularly in the writing for children field, where I feel I have a bit of momentum behind me at present.  Fingers crossed 2015 turns out to be a good one!…..

As far as reading is concerned, my only problem seems to be that there are so many great books out there that I would love to read that I am spoilt for choice!  One book that I received as a Christmas present was Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, which I had asked for after hearing good things about it.  If you haven’t already read it, then I would recommend it as a no-nonsense, straight-talking insight into how a successful writer approaches the craft, with a bit of biography thrown in for good measure.

In regards to this blog, if you recall Jane Dougherty won the last mini writing competition of 2014 and so I will be asking her to set the first writing prompt for 2015, and will get back to you shortly.

Hope you have a fruitful coming year and look forward to catching up! 🙂

 

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Voting for November is now open!

voting slip

Thank you again to those who took part in this month’s mini writing competition with the writing prompt of ‘Memories’.  Voting is now open so please vote and ensure that your favourite wins.  As usual, voting will remain open until the end of the month and the winner will then get to set the next writing prompt.

As December is shaping up to be a bit of a busy month and, given that most people will have more than enough to keep them occupied over the festive season, I would propose that the mini competitions take a break until the new year.  Therefore the winner of this month will be setting the first writing prompt of 2015, and good luck to all.

Who will you vote for?

‘The Skylark’ by Tom F

This is not a competition entry, but something that Tom asked me if I would post on his behalf.  It is also another very fitting piece of writing given the 100 year anniversary of WW1 and it has special meaning to him, as detailed in his email to me at the time:

It is dedicated to my uncle, Pte Thomas Frattaroli, Gordon Highlanders, who was killed in action 18th August 1944, in Normandy, at the age of 21. Liseux is a beautiful place, we have visited on quite a few occasions, took my dad there before he passed away (he also fought his way through to Germany and Poland, and survived, obviously). I can’t describe the feeling I got the first time I went, and saw my name on the gravestone.

Thank you for sharing this Tom and for your touching story.
Skylark-in-flight

THE SKYLARK

It was Lisieux, Normandy, 1944. Paris had been liberated and the Axis forces were retreating.

“Have a cup of tea, lad, then move over to the left to be recorded with the rest of your pals”. The British corporal was receiving German prisoners of war, listing name, rank and number, in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

The German soldiers were defeated and afraid, their slumped shoulders and shuffling feet reflected the fear in their eyes. They were thinking “What will happen to us? Will we ever see our families again? “

This one thought ran through all their minds. Only a few short years ago they were children, but the war had ravaged them, now they were battle–hardened men, but they still had their fears.

“Don’t worry, Fritz, we will look after you, and you are safe here, we will feed you as well as we can” added the corporal.

“Lucky sods, imagine the boot on the other foot,” interrupted one young Tommy, “they wouldn’t……….”

“Shut up, soldier!” the corporal barked “we are the British Army, the war is over for us and they are no longer a threat. Move on to the left.” he motioned to the German POW who was now slurping on his boiling, welcoming brew.

“How many now, corporal? “enquired the RSM.

“About three thousand, sergeant major. We are running short of space to keep them here, but I don’t think they are a threat, they have seen enough, just like us, and they welcome their peace”

“We will have to hope so, corporal”, the RSM muttered quietly.

“Sir?…….”

“We are on our own now son, they have moved on and left us in charge, ‘Awaiting Further Orders’. The local French officials will be coming soon to help with the organising of who goes where, but we shouldn’t be too long here.”

RSM John Kirk was a huge man, a Scot from the Gordon Highlanders, straight-talking and to the point. He was revered by the men serving under him, and respected by his superior officers. With him they believed they were invincible. As a career soldier, he should have gone further up the ranks, but he was content to stay close to his men. He had trained them for three years for this victory, and he wanted to be with them when they achieved it.

“Won’t be long now sarge. We’ll be off back to Blighty, and not like it was at Dunkirk. This time it’ll be on the ferry, china tea cups and a plate of cakes. ‘All aboard The Skylark‘ hey?” It was the young Tommy chirping in again. He was twenty one years old and hadn’t been at Dunkirk, too young. This was his first taste of action, but like all Britons he had learned of the horrors of retreat and the bravery of all those involved.

“First Saturday I get, it’ll be down to ‘Hat and Feathers‘ for a couple of pints with the boys, then up to see the ‘Spurs’. Up The Lillywhites!” he enthused.

John Kirk frowned as he looked the cocky lad up and down, obviously not one of his boys.

“Listen son,” he whispered threateningly “that’s a way off yet and you are still in the army,” the whisper increasing in volume “and while you wear the King’s uniform…. you call me SERGEANT MAJOR!”

The private snapped to attention, stretching his five feet six inch frame as far as it would reach.

“Sorry, SERGEANT MAJOR !“ his reaction direct from the parade ground.

“Stand easy, lad, I’m not going to eat you, just remember where we are. AND, if I’m ever in The Hat and Feathers, I’ll share a wee dram with you.” There was almost a smile on Kirk’s face, knowing he would NEVER take a drink in a London Pub.

“Now get amongst the prisoners, bring back the mugs and help out with the washing up. Good Lad!“

“SERGEANT MAJOR!” another perfect response.

It was at this point that the Commanding Officer, approached the RSM, he was a Lt. Colonel also from The Gordon Highlanders, and, at twenty four, ten years younger than RSM Kirk.

“I have spoken to the local councillors about the problem of overcrowding, and they have requisitioned the field directly adjacent to ours. We can have the prisoners moved into it as there is more room for them, albeit quite cramped, but it relieves our space a little. I’ve also spoken to the German C.O. Can you believe, he was educated at Oxford? He is quite happy to move too. They will not give us any trouble, they have nowhere to go, and if the locals got hold of them, heaven knows what would happen. We have about two hours of daylight to get that organised Sarn’t Major, they can have an armed guard overnight, you know the procedure.“

“Yes Sir!” barked Kirk.

“Thanks, but try and take things a little easier, John. It’s all over for us now, we have a lot to be proud of. We did our job. We ‘Stood Fast’.” The words were softly delivered, causing RSM Kirk to realize that for them, it was all over.

As the sun began to set to the West, a lone skylark rose from this corner of France, ascending slowly, singing his beautiful song of summer, whilst the ghostly shadows of the soldiers disappeared into the cool evening mist. Below him, the two fields, in St. Desir grew smaller as he climbed. In the British field, there were rows of white marble, akin to soldiers on parade. Next to them, divided by a low hedgerow and pathway, lay the German field, filled with smaller, darker stones, three times the number of those in the adjacent field.

At the entrance to each field stood a monument to many brave men, and resting by each, lay a wreath of poppies, with the words

“BROTHERS IN PEACE”

(c) Tom Frattaroli

New Writing Prompt For November….

Thank you to lassfromlancashire who has provided this month’s writing prompt of ‘Memories’.

I am now pleased to invite you to submit a piece of flash fiction (under 500 words) or poetry on ‘Memories’ and hope to see some thought-provoking pieces come in over the course of the month.

The closing date for submissions will be the 24th of the month as usual, and you will be able to vote for your favourite between then and the end of the month, with the winner setting the writing prompt for December.

Good luck to all who enter :).