In Pursuit of the Strange and Curious…

Our next retreat focuses on settings and characters, drawing inspiration from some gothic writing of the past. Here’s a little teaser from Sandra to whet your appetites…

Source: In Pursuit of the Strange and Curious…

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. ūüôā

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.

 

 

 

 

My experience as a writing competition adjudicator….

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I have just spent a relaxing few days in Crieff Hydro over half term break and have used the time to finish off adjudications that I am doing for the Angus Writers’ Circle flash fiction competition. ¬†I have never adjudicated a competition before and I was a little hesitant to take it on at first as I wondered whether I was qualified enough to do it. ¬†However, I am now very glad that I agreed to it as I have found the exercise to be quite an eye opener into just how involved and subjective these type of processes are, and I have also learnt a lot about what I like and don’t like quite so much in terms of writing style, which I’m sure I can also apply to my own writing.

Having entered a fair few writing competitions myself over the past couple of years, whether it be for the Scottish Association of Writers’ Annual Conference, or ones with my writing group, I have heard a lot of adjudicators say that it was difficult to come up with a final 3 (or 4 or 5) and that their top entries moved around a lot before they finally decided on the outcome. ¬†Part of me used to just think that they were simply being polite/encouraging/motivational etc., however I can now totally see where they were coming from! ¬†I have chosen a first, second and third place, with one highly commended and one commended entry and I think I am now fairly sure which entries will be in my top 5, but even now they are still moving around and it is very difficult to make a final decision and to just stick to it.

I read them when I first received them just before Christmas and have re-read them all a number of times since then.  I thought I had eventually cracked it, but then when I started to type up my comments for the various entries it made me look at them again in even closer detail (not just as a reader, but also as a writer), and things changed yet again.  It is also fair to say that most of the entries had something I liked, even if there were other parts of them that I was not quite so keen on, so the next time I am on the other side of an adjudication, I will have a far greater appreciation of just what is involved.

As for the outcome, I am due to give my verdicts this coming Wednesday and just hope that I will make the right choices. ¬†However I think I feel more exposed than those who entered the competition in the first place! ūüôā

New Writing Prompt For February….

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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 ¬†‚ÄúCarnival‚ÄĚ 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 :).

And January’s winner is………………

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I am pleased to say that January’s winner, with her very authentic take on the writing prompt inspired by Christina Rossetti’s ‘In the bleak midwinter’, is lassfromlancashire. ¬†A well deserved win and, once I have liaised with her, I will get back to you with the writing prompt for February. ¬†(Scary that we are into February already – where did January go??)

Voting for January is now open!

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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! ūüėČ )

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?

‘Hasten Spring’

Here’s my own cheeky little entry, which I thought I would squeeze in before tomorrow evening’s deadline.¬† Keats it certainly isn’t!¬†ūüôā ¬† Still, it’s just a bit of fun, so hope it at least provides a temporary distraction from all the bad weather… (and I love the picture!)

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HASTEN SPRING

Halloween is in October,
Thanksgiving’s the next month,
then it’s Christmas in December,
families and turkey lunch.

But January has nothing
bar cold wind, ice and snow.
Amid bleak winter, hasten Spring,
help us and nature grow.

New Writing Prompt For January….

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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!

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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! ūüôā

 

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