Marginalia (by Liz Sandbach)

Let me begin this blog by quoting someone else:

“I have now discovered that making marks in books to show assent, dissent or just to highlight important passages was the norm rather than the exception way back in medieval and Renaissance times. In fact, educators of the time recommended that the best way to learn from a book wasn’t just to read it like we do now, but to physically mark passages, perhaps to stitch pieces of thread into the page to mark the important bits, or even to tear pages from the book itself: in other words, to use it as required and not just to read it, passively. We have evolved from a culture in which readers of the past literally took hold of texts for specific purposes, to one in which texts generally take hold of readers who may not be looking for anything beyond a good read.”

This fascinating peek into the history of book reading got me thinking about our modern relationship with books and how we read them.

First, let me hold up my hand and admit to writing copious notes (in pencil) in all my English Lit textbooks. And let me attest to the value of this for the learning process. But I have equally to admit that it’s never occurred to me to write comments in the margins of non-academic novels – although it may have alleviated the frustration that came from reading some of them: “If you can’t be bothered to edit it, why should I bother to read it!!” Or “You said four chapters ago that Stella had long, dark flowing locks; now she’s a blonde. Don’t you know your own characters, for f**k’s sake?” Or even, “I seriously think you ought to seek help!”

Nowadays, I suspect this ‘marking’ practice would be frowned upon as bad form and tantamount to defacing or vandalising books. Is this modern outlook just good manners or have we become far too precious in our relationship with books?

The author of the opening quotation also said that reading the marginalia “was like being in a book club of two but without the wine”. And I understand what he was getting at. Writing comments in a book creates a kind of ‘conversation’ – not only with the book’s author but also with future readers of the book who will discover your notes. I’ve come across some textbook marginalia that have presented me with a completely new perspective on a subject or specific passage. It changes the reading experience from being a solitary one to one where you enter the mindset of another reader and see another reader’s viewpoint. Surely seeing another person’s point of view can only ever be a good thing – widening our understanding and broadening our outlook.

So, what kind of reader are you? Do you dog-ear your pages rather than use a bookmark? Do you open out the pages and flatten the spine? Or do you prefer to keep your books as pristine as the day you bought them? I’m in the former camp and do like getting to grips with a book and am not afraid to batter it a bit. This may horrify some book-lovers of course – and each to their own bibliophile bent. But the one thing we must surely all agree on is that, for all their growing popularity, we can’t interact in that kind of physical way with e-books. And I think that’s why, for me, a Kindle will never replace the sheer joy of a paper book – even down to the lovely papery smell of it. Electronic may have its uses, but it probably would have horrified those medieval and Renaissance readers who made marks, stitched in pieces of thread, and tore out pages to carry away with them. And they’d be even more horrified by the librarian who added a caustic condemnation to the inside front cover of a returned book: “Systematically vandalised throughout by a reader, June 2010.”

 

Liz Sandbach, February 2018

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VRWG January 2018 The Blue Cap Coup (by Bill Webster)

The Blue Cap Coup

Whilst the police continue to investigate the events of the 8th January 2018 at the Blue Cap Hostelry in Sandiway, I feel it behoves me to offer this version of the truth.

This was to be a special meeting of the august and revered Vale Royal Writers’ Group. Some ‘person’ had suggested that instead of taking up part of the meeting with our usual writing exercise, we should instead perform said exercise in a solitary fashion as ‘homework’ to be done in advance of the meeting.

There was therefore a degree of tension in the room even before the events as related below began to unfold. People looked from face to face, smiling nervously, trying to ascertain who had been swotty enough to produce something in advance.

The exercise itself was a cracker. Choose a character and then write a short piece featuring them – but with all their normal attributes reversed. For example, Ian Rankin’s Rebus would be a devout teetotaller who always did everything strictly by the book.

The meeting started on time as normal, with our beloved Captain Bob welcoming us all before moving on to a discussion of the exercise. And that is when two things happened that suddenly changed the whole course of the evening.

The first thing was that Bob decided that all us bad people should be given ten minutes at the start of the meeting to have a go at the exercise. (Take that, Swots!)

The second thing was that the question was posed as to whether the character in the exercise had to be fictional or not. The decision was that the character did not have to be fictional.

And that is when everything changed, and suddenly there was a nauseating sensation of tumbling from a great height as the faces around the table and the room itself seemed to wink in and out of existence until suddenly it was ten minutes earlier and…

—————————————————–

Feet were shifting under the table. Joyce looked meaningfully at Tom who shrugged and made a face, as he was often wont to do. She turned to Bob and coughed, tapping her watch.

Bob looked up from his notebook and smiled. “Oh! Have you got a smartwatch too, Joyce? I must say I do find mine very useful… once I’ve managed to tap it to wake it up!”

Joyce sighed and shook her head sadly. “It’s twenty-to-eight, Bob. Don’t you think it’s time we…”

Bob clasped his hand to his brow. “Oh, the meeting! I’m so sorry, everyone! I was just composing one of my love poems for the anthology.”

Bill leered. “Is that dirty dominatrix woman in it?” he asked.

“Now just stop there, Bill,” Bob said primly. “I will have you know that I have left that embarrassing period of my life behind me. I’m more into fluffy little lambs and hosts of daffodils and murmurations of starlings nowadays.”

Joyce banged her bottle of Budweiser on the table. “We really ought to start the meeting NOW, Bob!”

Bob took a sip of his sparkling mineral water and daintily wiped his lips with a monogrammed silk handkerchief. “I don’t know, Joyce,” he mused. He looked enquiringly around the assembled writers. “Does anyone want to have a meeting?”

“Oh, for goodness sake!” thundered Joyce. “What’s happened to you, man?”

“I have become a better person,” he said.

“Bollocks!” said Joyce, as she wrestled Bob to the floor and applied a strangulation lock worthy of Mick McManus.

“But I wanted to read my poem!” he cried with his last gasp.

—————————————————–

So there you have it.

I have heard that Joyce has claimed that she was not even at the meeting, and that Tom supports her in this. But then they would say that, wouldn’t they?

With the exception of myself, this is clearly a deeply disturbed group of people.

If you think you would fit in, we meet on the first Monday of each month in the Blue Cap in Sandiway, except when it falls on a Bank Holiday when we slide forward a week.

Or back, depending on how we feel.

Wonky (by Les Green, December 2017)

The story was big news. The biggest news of the day. I guess if you have a 24-hour news channel then you have to fill it with something. And if there’s no war or no royal wedding, and nobody televisually significant has died, then celebrity shocks will do.

It was bad news of course in its way, and bad news travels quickly. As Terry Pratchett used to say – bad news can get up and travel round the world while good news is still putting its boots on. Which is how everybody, more or less, got to hear it at the same time.

The news came from one of his representatives. Some PR schmuck reading from a prepared statement on the steps of the famous R&D building at a secret location. Most of the announcement was just filling and waffle, but the main point, as everybody knows, was that Willy Wonka had developed type 2 diabetes.

The news divided opinion. Some were sympathetic and others not so much. By the end of the first week after the announcement, there was a growing group of outspoken people that thought he was reaping what he had sown. Some of the more radical objectors were calling it payback after the group of children that were lost and maimed during the Golden Ticket competition disaster. Whatever the opinion of the people, there was definitely something happening behind the golden gates.

At the end of the first month, we had the first announcement. All products will be re-branded to inform the consumer of the sugar and fat content in every Wonka product. Sugar was being reduced, and in some instances taken out completely. And in an effort to reduce the Wonka brand carbon footprint some of the exotic high fructose ingredients were being replaced with locally sourced alternatives.

After 2 months, stories started appearing on the 24-hour news channels, running like ticker-tape along the bottom of the screen. There were wall-to-wall reports of failing local economies that were previously dependent on the Wonka dollar. Snozberries lay on the ground, rotting where they fell, as growers felt the financial impact of losing their previously lucrative contracts. Back home however, there was better news as the Wonka brand invested heavily in using only products from the countries in which the manufacturing plants are based. In Italy, for example, you could have a reduced sugar, tiramisu mousse bar or an amoretti and coffee ice cream. In France you could enjoy a cherry and praline truffle or a crème brule ice cream.

Sales dropped of course. Using standard, every day ingredients meant that everything tasted like the products from other confectioners. And in the meantime, even though the original Wonka recipes remained secret, rivals still tried to emulate the once great candy man. As the months rolled on the Wonka portfolio grew smaller and unstable, until eventually he sold the whole enterprise – secret recipes included – to a conglomerate that included Cadbury and Nestle.

Now of course the great man himself – Mr. Willy Wonka; the famed sugar daddy, inventor, creator, purveyor of the stickiest calories and sweetest treats; portrayed by both Johnny Depp and Gene Wilder in movie versions of the Golden Ticket massacre – has now become a real recluse. This time beyond the walls, fences and security cameras of the Wonka world. There are tales of him living on a mountain range in Asia, in a temple he built, where he contemplates his part in the obesity pandemic that now affects the richer parts of the world. There are also reports that he has changed his name and appearance, and now runs a chain of health food shops. A third suggestion is that he went into a diabetic coma and subsequently died after binge eating the entire stock of Wonka chocolate – over a ton – that he had in his mansion, Wonka Land. I guess that’s another Wonka secret we’ll never know the answer to.

*This was inspired by, and based (loosely!) on, an exercise provided by Debbie Mitchell (This is the exercise awaiting you in the 8th January 2018 meeting);

Take a favourite literary character and flip their personality. So, for example, hard-drinking, maverick DI Rebus becomes a fitness fanatic who does everything by the book, Count Dracula is squeamish and faints at the sight of blood, Romeo and Juliet loathe each other. Then write a scene which features your character with his/her new traits.

Glad Tidings from Gladstone’s (by Joyce Ireland, October 2017)

The October meeting produced the usual pattern of several of us saying that, for a variety of reasons  we had no ‘news’ to report; however, those who did gave us very interesting accounts of what they had been doing recently. Around the news part of the agenda, a number read out their writings, making me feel ashamed as I am one who hasn’t been able to contribute much to the group in the past few months. So, no excuses, but I have volunteered to write this month’s blog entry; and of course it is writing.

As I write this on 7th October I am sitting in the reading room at Gladstone’s Library after a day of member run workshops. Our workshop in May was quite low in numbers but today there were just four of us; a little disappointing in having so few, but this did not affect the enjoyment of the day or the quality of the exercises and the work produced. Perhaps we shall have to cut down to one day per year. I know that those who have attended in the past have reported the experience as being first rate and worthwhile; that is in part due to the wonderful atmosphere at Gladstone’s, the reasonable cost of the day, but mostly on those qualities which epitomise our brilliant collection of writers.

These workshops were started in November 2005 (I remember it well as I was called in to have my hip repaired that week so couldn’t actually attend). Still I wasn’t needed to ensure success and was very pleased that it went so well we have been running them since, initially one per year in the autumn and then twice so that we could be here in spring also.

Now I am putting out a further request to all those who feel that they produced some worthwhile writing to please trawl through your notebooks/computers and send me a selection of that work so that it can be edited into a presentable book/let to give to the library and show them what we have been up to. If you don’t know where to send it, bring it along to the monthly meetings and give it to me, or anyone on the committee who will pass it to me. Alternatively, such pieces could be submitted to the Group’s anthology, with a note of where they were first conceived, as we always give the library a copy of our anthology.

Joyce Ireland

VRWG September 2017     Unnatural Forces                   (by Bill Webster)

Spooky pic of hand...

Photo by tertia van rensburg on Unsplash

Fellow traveller, heed me well.  My hair was not always this shocking white.  The drool from the corners of my broken mouth and the palsy in my limbs are of recent vintage too, and all bear witness to the warning I will now give to you.

There are some who think writing is a craft, an art which enriches our civilisation.  There are others who think it might be a good way to make a fast buck or two.  There are those whose working days are behind them and now have the time and opportunity to write that story or poem or novel that was always shouting to be let out.  There are perhaps as many reasons for writing as there are writers, and lo, they are legion.

But I wager that few if any aspiring writers aspire to having their wits curdled and their senses scrambled by their pursuit.

There is a tendency for writers and would-be writers to form groups.  The general idea is that they can learn from each other, although a cynic might say that what they mainly learn is better excuses for not having done any writing.

One such group is Vale Royal Writers’ Group, of which your humble scribe has the misfortune to be the Treasurer, meaning that I am honour-bound to attend most of the meetings.

Otherwise I might have missed that fateful night in September in the year of our Lord 2017, and would still be in possession of what limited faculties I had prior to then.

The principal blame attaches to a woman we will call Joan, for that is her name.  Joan had been to a fancy writing course somewhere (or so she said), and she brought us back an exercise that was supposed to help inspire us.  She called it the “What-if?” exercise.

So we what-iffed our way round the table.

My contribution was “What if all glass suddenly disappeared?” which I offer only as an example, but not a very good one.  Some comedian came up with “What if Donald Trump became President of the United States?” which I thought was taking things a bit far, personally.  So you get the idea.  So far, so good.

It may have been the Joan woman who started it, but to be fair to her I don’t suppose she could reasonably have foreseen the full horror of what she had set in motion.

Nor could Debbie have understood the implications of asking “What if two zombies fell in love?”

Because neither she nor Joan, nor indeed anyone else in the room – with perhaps one exception – could know what was about to happen next.

Matthew smiled, and paused.  Everyone was wondering what was coming next.  He drew out the suspense, and then just when we thought he maybe wasn’t going to say anything at all, out it came…

“What if the characters we created came off the page?”

He smiled again, in a vaguely evil kind of way.

A chill passed through the room but we pressed on, everyone suddenly wanting to get to the end of this exercise even if it meant moving rapidly on to the “News” section where everyone except the swottier types has to come up with a creative way of confessing that they have yet again done no writing whatsoever since the last meeting.

But the damnable exercise had a second part.  We now had to write a sort of flash fiction story or map out an idea for something longer based on the “what-if” we had come up with.

I am sure it was not just me, although for the sanity of my colleagues I hope it was thus.

Debbie’s zombies loved each other (in a physical sort of sense) and decomposed in the process as they literally knocked lumps off each other.  A grotesque idea at the best of times, and one that personally I think any nice girl should be ashamed of.  But then that’s writers for you.

But I digress.

Matthew smiled as he saw the reactions round the table as each person wondered whether he or she was the only one who could now see disembodied zombie body parts lazily floating around our meeting room in a subtle red blood mist and hear the weird background murmur of the characters bemoaning their lot.  And then finally what was left of them sat on either side of Debbie and used the one eye they had left between them to follow our proceedings.

Well, by the end of the exercise we had three times as many ‘people’ in the room as we had started with, but the newcomers were an unsavoury lot, dragged up from the depths of the depraved minds that had created them.

But the worst was yet to come.

David announced that he was going to read out a piece he had written in the style of some fellow called HP Lovecraft.  I assumed with a name like that it was going to be slightly saucy and would reduce the weirdness and tension pervading the room.

But no.

It turns out that HP Lovecraft is not a soft-pornographer but a purveyor of scary horror… and David’s story out-Lovecrafted the man himself as he conjured up a nightmare in words.  But of course Matthew’s magic transformed David’s fiction into reality within the room.  Even our supernatural visitors seemed to be discomfited by the elemental forces which roiled around the room and pressed on our already hard-pressed temples.

I could hardly breathe by the end, and when the meeting was closed there was not the usual dallying.  The room cleared quickly, and with audible sighs of relief as each person cleared the portal.

But as Treasurer I had to stay to do the collecting and counting… just me, and the apparitions, and Matthew.

He dropped his shiny £1 coin into my collecting saucer.  “That was a good meeting,” he said.  He looked around the room, and smiled happily.

“Please Matthew,” I begged.  “Make them go away.”

He nodded.  “Yes,” he said.  “We can’t leave them here, can we?”  He clapped his hands and his body seemed to expand to fill the room.  “Begone!” he said.  “Go back from whence you came!”

For a moment the room and my legs and my stomach and my brain seemed to be made of squishy-squashy rubber.  There was a feeling of abject weakness and nausea but then as soon as I had felt it, it had gone… and there was only me and the meeting room and my saucer of shiny £1 coins and Matthew.

He looked at me anxiously.  “Are you feeling alright?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Good,” he said.  “I’ll see you next time.”

And then he left me alone in the suddenly normal room, but the damage that you have seen on my features and about the person of my person had already been done and could not be undone.

So heed my warning if you don’t want to end up like me.  If you aspire to be a writer, by all means join a writers’ group.  But whatever you do, for the sake of your sanity stay well away from Vale Royal Writers’ Group.

I only hope this message reaches you in time.

 

 

 

 

Toolbox Tips – Writers Markets (by Nemma Wollenfang)

When Bob asks for blog volunteers each month I generally have no idea what to write. For fiction, ideas flow. For non-fic, not so much. So this is my attempt at writing… something. I talk a lot about writing markets and places to submit, so this is pretty much just an assortment of reputable publications that may interest folks who want to try running the gauntlet. I tried to include something for everyone, some you may already know. None of the places listed below have submission/entry fees and all pay something. Hope it’s useful!

Disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these publications, just passing the info along.

Daily Science Fiction (DSF) – short stories.

Payment: $0.08 per word.

Length: 100 – 1,500 words (shorter preferred).

Deadline: Nearly always open.

Stipulations: No simultaneous submissions (sent elsewhere for consideration at same time), no reprints (previously published).

What they want: Science fiction, Fantasy, broadly defined.

Extra details: Very competitive market. I’m on my fifth rejection from these folks but I do love them. There’s a lot of great material to read for free on the site.

Find details here: http://dailysciencefiction.com/submit

 

L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Futureshort stories, illustrators.

Prizes: $1000, $750, $500 (every three months), $5000 (grand annual prize).

Length: up to 17,000 words.

Deadline: Always open, quarterly deadlines – 31st March, 30th June, 30th Sept, 31st Dec.

Stipulations: Open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium – where professional publication is deemed to be payment of at least six cents per word, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits.

What they want: Science Fiction or Fantasy.

Extra details: If you don’t win it’s still possible to be a Finalist, Silver Honourable Mention or Honourable Mention – which is a pretty sweet badge of honour for your work. One of mine got a Silver last year, not managed to find a home for it yet though.

Find details here: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/contest-rules-writers/

 

Chicken Soup for the Soul – short stories, poetry.

Payment: $200 per piece + 10 free copies of the book.

Length: Stories – up to 1,200 words, poetry… doesn’t say.

Deadline: Differ for each title, always something open.

Stipulations: No reprints.

What they want: Themed, see website for details. They’re always adding new titles. Recommended to read their prior books published – you can use the sample read on Amazon.

Extra details: I’ve found that sometimes the deadlines extend by several months. Also, they don’t send out rejections.

Find details here: http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics

 

The Poetry Nook – poetry.

Payment: $150 winner, Honourable Mention/s $15.

Length: Any.

Deadline: Weekly contest.

Stipulations: Reprints are okay.

What they want: Any theme.

Extra details: To enter you need an account on their site – this doesn’t cost anything.

Find details here: https://www.poetrynook.com/contest/145th-weekly-poetry-contest

 

Storyteller Magazine – short stories.

Payment: $100 advance on 20% royalties.

Length: 5,000 – 7,500 words.

Deadline: Always open.

Stipulations: No reprints.

What they want: Any genre.

Extra details: They have some pretty specific formatting rules, so read carefully.

Find details here: https://storyteller.submittable.com/submit

 

TTA Press Magazines (Interzone, Black Static, Crimewave) – short stories.

Payment: ??? I’ve heard writers say £30 per 1000 words, but it’s not stated.

Length: up to 10,000 words.

Deadline: Always open.

Stipulations: No reprints, simultaneous submissions or multiple submissions.

What they want: Each imprints takes something different – Interzone is Science Fiction and Fantasy, Black Static is Dark Fantasy and Horror, Crimewave is… well… Crime.

Extra details: These are some of (if not the biggest) speculative fiction short story magazine in the UK. Very competitive but they publish in print and illustrate stories.

Find details here: http://ttapress.com/

 

Nightmare Magazine – short stories.

Payment: $0.06 per word for unpublished (pro-pay), $0.01 for reprints.

Length: 1,500 – 7,500 words, below 5,000 preferred.

Deadline: Currently closed but there’s free fiction to read on their site.

Stipulations: No simultaneous or multiple submissions – usually a quick turnaround though.

What they want: Horror and Dark Fantasy.

Find details here: http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/

 

Lightspeed Magazine – short stories.

Payment: $0.08 per word for unpublished (pro-pay), $0.02 for reprints.

Length: 1,500 – 10,000 words, below 5,000 preferred.

Deadline: Currently closed but there’s free fiction to read on their site.

Stipulations: No simultaneous or multiple submissions – usually a quick turnaround though.

What they want: Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Find details here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/

 

Lethe Press: A Midas Clutch: Tales of Opulent Horror – short story anthology.

Payment: $0.05 per word for originals, $0.02 for reprints.

Length: 4,000 – 14,000 words.

Deadline: 31st December.

Stipulations: No zombie or vampire tales.

What they want: Lethe is seeking weird and eerie stories of people consumed by wealth. Each tale must be suffused with the trappings of the well-to-do. Decadence should be paramount.

Find details here: http://www.lethepressbooks.com/call-for-submissions.html

 

Workers Write! Tales from the café issue – stories, poetry.

Payment: $5 – $50 depending.

Length: 500 – 5,000 words.

Deadline: 31st December.

Stipulations: Will consider reprints.

What they want: Issue fourteen of Workers Write! will be Tales from the Café and will contain stories and poems from the food industry, including kitchen, server, and front and back-of-house jobs. They’re looking for fiction about bakers, bartenders, bus people, chefs, cooks, managers, owners, servers – anyone who works in a restaurant, bar, or café.

Find details here: http://www.workerswritejournal.com/

 

One Story – short stories.

Payment: $500 + 25 contributor copies.

Length: 3,000 – 8,000 words.

Submission Periods: 15th Jan – 31st May, 1st Sept – 14th Nov.

Stipulations: No reprints.

What they want: Literary fiction, any genre.

Extra details: Very competitive. Also look at One Teen Story for YA (there’s a section for teenage writers to submit there).

Find details here: https://www.one-story.com/?page=submit

 

Alban Lake Publishing Magazines – short stories, poetry.

Payment: Varies depending on magazine, but generally $15 for stories, lower for poetry.

Length: Varies depending on magazine.

Deadline: Always open.

Stipulations: Reprints accepted but prefer unpublished material.

What they want: They have several imprints, all in the speculative range. Outposts of Beyond takes Sci-fi and Fantasy, Disturbed takes horror, FrostFire Worlds takes Sci-fi and Fantasy for younger readers, Bloodbond takes vampire/werewolf type stories, Trysts of Fate takes paranormal romance, Illumen takes Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror (poetry only), Scifaikuest takes haiku with a SF/F twist.

Extra details: They publish in print. I had a little story in the May issue of FrostFire Worlds and was very pleased with how it turned out.

Find details here: http://albanlake.com/

 

Splickety Publishing Group – short stories.

Payment: $0.02 per word.

Length: Flash fiction. For each issue they take 1 story <100 words, 8-10 stories 500-700 words, 2-3 stories 701-1000 words.

Deadline: Varies, always new themes.

Stipulations: No reprints.

What they want: They have variation imprints, all with themed issues. Splickety Magazine takes general, Spark takes romance, Havok take sci-fi/fantasy.

Extra details: I quite like these guys. They come up with some interesting themes. I had a microfic in Havok last year and found the editors great to work with.

Find details here: http://splickety.com/submission-guidelines/upcoming-themes/

 

Journal of Compressed Creative Arts – short stories, poetry.

Payment: $50

Length: Very short stuff mostly. See individual calls.

Deadline: 16th September.

Stipulations: Read guidelines carefully.

What they want: Compressed poetry, prose fiction, creative non-fiction, and triptychs.

Find details here: https://matter.submittable.com/submit

 

Roane Publishing – novelettes, novels.

Payment: Royalty split. If in anthology, 20% royalty split with other authors.

Length: Depends – novels 70,000+ words, anthology novelettes usually 15-20,000 words.

Deadline: Always open.

Stipulations: No reprints or simultaneous subs.

What they want: Romance. There is a current anthology theme on their main website: One Sweet Morning. It’s spring themed romance. Due to follow are summer, autumn and winter themed calls too. Deadline for One Sweet Morning is 30th September.

Extra details: I’ve been in a couple of their romance anthologies with novelettes, and found them to be nice folks to work with.

Find details here: http://www.roanepublishing.com/Articles.asp?ID=253

 

There are many more markets out there, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ve tried to include ones that are open for submissions now and/or have free material to read on their sites. And remember, don’t be discouraged by rejections – those are an author’s rite of passage! – I’m on my 176th today for short stories.

All the best and happy writing!

Nemma x

Captain’s (B)Log

So, it seems there’s this rule…. As chairman, (part-time some might say), if you miss three meetings on the bounce, then when you get to that point in the meeting where you ask for a volunteer to pen the month’s blog, everyone looks at you with the sort of expression that says, “You’ve been away three months, and you’re looking for someone else to volunteer?”.  Hey-ho – the price you pay when your daughter decides to opt for a Cyprus wedding, and thinks everything will happen, “just like that.” I’m still trying to work out where April May & June went to – did 2017 decide not to do those months?

But I must confess to experiencing a real feeling of Home Coming when, at the beginning of July, (seems so long ago now) I walked into the meeting room to see familiar faces already gathered, chatting to each other, foraging in bags for notebooks and pens, drinks on the table and new faces to say ‘hello and welcome’ to, (hope you enjoyed it Cody & Dad-David.) – three months really is too long away from the gathering that never fails to remind me why I love writing and why I do it, yet also keeps me grounded, and mindful of how lucky we are to be part of a group that counts within its members writers of real talent, wit and depth, yet still sees its raison de’etre as the encouragement and nurturing of talent – whether new, young, or.. a bit longer-in-the-tooth.

By way of contrast – and warning – I heard while I was away of the demise of a Cyprus-based writing group, not the one I attend when I am there, but a ‘break-away’ faction who, following some rather silly, intra-group politicking, decided that not every member of the original group was taking the business of Creative Writing as seriously as they should be. (!!) After some rather fractious meetings, these ‘serious writers’ decided – apparently – that the achievement of their writing goals would be best achieved if they confined themselves to sharing their scribblings only with those whose writing experience was, generally, on a par with their own – as opposed to newbies, novices, and others who are only just discovering that there may be a writer within them – (Hands up who can remember that feeling?? Yup, thought so!) The upshot has proved to be – surprise, surprise – that after a period of three years, during which, believe it or not, they enacted a policy by which they actually interviewed ‘applicants to the group’ to assess their writing ability before allowing them entry to their fold, the group has, finally folded – having seen their number dwindle to a mere handful. What a shame.

It strikes me that nothing is as self-evident as the need for any writing group (in fact probably any arts-based group), to continually seek to reach out to the new – young or old – and to not just embrace but rejoice in the fact that writing is, for most of us, a never ending journey, one where we must continually investigate the by-ways and shrouded footpaths that lead who knows where? And what better way to decide to explore those paths than by hearing a voice that is different from our own, one that makes us think, ‘that’s a bit different. I might like to have a go at that’ or ‘If I keep practising, I may be able to write like that one day.’ And that’s exactly what I like to think VRWG does! Long may it do so. See you all in August!