Friday, 14 December 2012

Competitions, Prizes and Afternoon Tea

Well, what an enviably busy time I’ve experienced since my last blog. Competitions, the country’s longest established weekly magazine and local editors have all featured in my diary these past few weeks.

At the launch of the Berkhamsted Short Story Competition (see my October blog) in Waterstones, Berkhamsted, I graced a panel of writers which included headline judges Freya North and Jonathan Stroud. Eager writers crammed into the shop to absorb our advice and tips before mingling, munching and sipping the generously donated wine and nibbles. And I’m pleased to report that a handful of entries have already arrived though there’s still plenty of time to enter. See for further details.

As part of this initiative, by the way, I will be running a two hour Inspiration to Write Workshop on Wednesday, 30 January so do let either me or the Hospice know if you’d like to book a place.

Just to show that I don’t limit myself to local events, however, I also spent a week working at the Covent Garden offices of The Lady magazine. No doubt you read my Daily News Round Ups along with the weekly resumé of national events? Yes, I thought so. As you would expect from such an iconic periodical, The Editor and his staff were charming and they have asked me to return which I have agreed to do in February.

Back in the Shires, I have just presented prizes to the winners of this year’s Chiltern Writers Poetry Competition, judged by the multi talented Honorary Member, Christopher North, and shared festive merriment with fellow CW members.

Oh, and just the other day I mingled over afternoon tea with the Editor and journalists of The Bucks Herald. 

In fact, looking back, I’m amazed how I find time to write. And on that note, you must excuse me, I have a feature to finish . . .

Monday, 5 November 2012

Thame Arts & Literature Festival

If you will excuse the indulgence, I’d to share with you some feedback received from one of my learners on a workshop I ran at the recent Thame Arts and Literature Festival. It was my third appearance at this event and I was looking forward to inspiring and motivating new writers.

And what an enthusiastic group they were!

They listened, eagerly contributed to discussions, took notes and generally allowed their imaginations to run riot. Ooh, we had such fun. And as if ‘Thank you’s’ at the end of our packed two hour session weren’t enough, one delightful learner emailed me a day or two later saying she'd been intending for years to start writing and had enjoyed the workshop so much she was now bursting with enthusiasm and creativity.

I tell you, such accolades truly inspire me.

You see, it just proves that however long you spend thinking about writing, it counts for nothing unless you actually crack on with it. So join a writers’ group, attend courses and set yourself goals. In fact, do whatever it takes to activate those creative juices.

And on that note, I have one or two ideas I need to work on . . .

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Berkhamsted Writing Competition

           I really must apologise for the tardiness of posting this latest blog but I have recently been preoccupied helping to organise the forthcoming Berkhamsted Writing Competition. 

          One of my Regular Writers, who works for the Hospice of St Francis, persuaded me to get involved and an utter delight it is too. I confess when attending our initial on-site meeting, being a hospice virgin, I oozed apprehension. But let me assure you the calmness and serenity that greets you in this fabulous place was awe inspiring. The setting is stunning, the staff delightful, the ethos unparalleled. But it costs a serious amount of sterling to run. Hence the competition.

          There are primary, secondary and adult categories with Freya North judging the adult entries and Jonathan Stroud our headline judge for the secondary school entries. Both Hertfordshire writers will attend the launch party on Monday 12 November in Waterstones, Berkhamsted High Street. This is a ticket only ‘do’ so please contact or email to reserve your place or request competition entry details. 

          Writers from any county may submit their short stories. 

          You have until the end of March 2013 to create your 500 word masterpieces and I look forward to reading them . . .

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Vacation, Vacation, Vacation

I may have spent the summer months crisscrossing the Continent, strolling the isolated and pine clad hills of Sweden one week and melting in the unrelenting heat of mainland Greece the next, but never let it be said that I neglect my literary calling.

Sunshine and a beckoning Aegean Sea? Oh please, I’d prefer to remain in the shade of a parasol working on the latest musings of my alter ego, Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle. Cruise the shores of the Baltic searching for herring when I have a brace of interviews to write up? Not likely.

Of course, I did partake in a minor amount of tourist based activities. I had, after all, my family to placate. But rest assured my tan suede notebook and a bundle of HB’s were never far from reach. Talking of which . . .

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Summer Season

     I have been indulging in a spot of copywriting lately. Actually some marketing too, if not full blown PR. A friend of mine has started her own holistic therapy business, you see, and of course who else would she turn to for some editorial assistance but yours truly? Needless to say, I am happy to oblige. Particularly as she insists I partake of a free treatment or two as payment in lieu. So I look forward to a massage just as soon as I can fit it into my schedule. That may be a while.

     My time, you see, is busier than ever. The Chiltern Writers Committee meets this evening, my Regular Writing Group, will descend upon my abode later in the week and I have a further meeting with a local charity about their short story competition. Oh, and there’s mummy duties, forthcoming family holidays and the Olympics.

     Honestly, I feel quite breathless!

     Still, that doesn’t prevent me from posting my latest Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle and A Write Life! blogs for Hampshire Life and Hertfordshire Life respectively. Research, pitches and more features are also in the pipeline. So, much as I would love to converse further, you simply must excuse me . . .

Monday, 25 June 2012

Interviews and Opportunities

I am simply overflowing with interview opportunities at the moment and it is infinitely both satisfying and interesting chatting to such an eclectic mix of people about their lives, opinions and interests. Only last week I bantered with Waterstones’ longest serving manager, Martin Latham. What a charmingly intelligent man! He simply oozes literary enthusiasm. Writing Magazine will be running this feature and I will inform you when the relevant copy hits the magazine shelves.

In the meantime I am preparing lists of intriguing questions for a couple of more local interviewees which I hope to squeeze in during the next fortnight.

Now what else is currently listed in my hectic schedule?  Ah, yes. I am in the throes of preliminary talks with a local charity. One of their fund raising opportunities is to run a Short Story Competition and I am dearly hoping to assist them. More details next time.

And while on the subject of competitions, Chiltern Writers’ Short Story Competition closes this coming Friday. The fragrant Tessa Harris is judging this one for us and I will be forwarding a bundle of top notch entries to her next weekend.

Now whilst my working days are already heaving with creativity, following a recent meeting with the captivating children’s author, Nick Halliday, we have decided to embark upon an enviably ambitious joint venture. It's an award winning project just waiting to happen. Although we do, of course, need to get round to actually committing our ideas to digital technology. Right now we’re still at the guffawing stage. Still, it promises to be funny, if only we find time to crack on with it. . .

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Out and About

What a blogging time I've had lately! And I’m not just referring to the one you’re perusing right now. I’ve also posted another A Write Life! scenario based on  my recent visit to Harpenden Writers where the room simply throbbed with literary zeal. So what else could I do but translate the experience into one of my blogs?  Do go to to get the lowdown on my visit. It has a slightly humorous bias, of course.

My latest Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle missive is also in the throes of its final tweak.  As you know, these are fortnightly musings for Hampshire Life ( and  My Lady Garden is due to entertain readers from Monday, 21st May.  How my alter ego enjoys the opportunity to share her well formed views!

Now what else? Oh yes, just the other day I went to the quintessentially English Chalfont St Giles to run a workshop as part of their Literary Festival and was based in the Old Reading Room just across from the duck pond and next to an ancient public house.  My ladies and gentlemen learners were overflowing with ideas and questions. We brainstormed storylines, delved into feature possibilities and discovered how to tap into the literary stimulation that is but there for us all to recognise and exploit. The organisers were incredibly hospitable and there are already rumours of my return to their next event, in two years’ time.

Come to think of it, I’ve been out and about quite a lot this month including a rather interesting networking lunch in Amersham. Unfortunately there were no other writers with whom to network. Nor publishers, editors or agents. But still, over generous helpings of pasta, dips and delicious pizza, I chatted with solar panel experts, life coaches and solicitors. It made for a rather welcome break in my hectic schedule, actually.

Talking of which, I have a family to feed and pets to fuss. Please excuse me . . .

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Sharing of Knowledge

Sun dappled sandstone, legions of literary luminaries and writers both committed and eager: such was the aura of Chipping Norton when I arrived at their recent Literary Festival. I was greeted in the Green Room by a brace of organisers who escorted me to my venue – the delightful Old Mill Cafe – where a throng of learners awaited. True, the below stairs venue was short on space. Nevertheless it oozed a satisfyingly intimate atmosphere. Tips, hints, advice, guidance, handouts; I resisted not in sharing. Yet, oh, how quickly time passes. For I’d barely clarified The 3 E’s when it was time to despatch my audience, safe in the knowledge that they were now fully equipped to tease a morsel of mirth from the most laughter challenged reader.

A number of other teaching commitments are also entered in my leather bound diary: a further Humour Writing workshop at the forthcoming Chalfont St Giles Literary Festival; and an imminent visit to Harpenden Writing group where I will also discuss my work and answering numerous questions.

Meantime the Festival Director of Thame Literary Festival, having invited me back for a third successive year, is thrilled with my workshop proposal. Oh, and my latest course – Inspiration to Write – is both fully subscribed and a third of the way through its tenure.

Honestly, it’s a wonder I have time to write these days. But, of course, I must remember to put my own rules into practise . . .

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A Profusion of Apologies

Please forgive my absence. February simply whizzed by faster than an Italian cruise captain could abandon his ship and, with Easter fast approaching, I have only just got round to rekindling my blog duties.

You see I have been somewhat focused on deadlines, not to mention preoccupied with an overabundance of feature ideas, hence the neglect of my webby.

So what has been happening since my last post? Well, first of all, BBC Radio Oxford has invited me onto Bill Heine’s Sunday morning show. Do put 27 May in your diary in case it slips my mind to remind you. Secondly, the March issue of Country Living included my Country Character snippet in which I interviewed the charmingly eccentric collector of 11,000 milk bottles, Paul Luke.

And what else? Oh yes, budding writers are enrolling on my Inspiration to Write course which begins mid April and, as part of my Chiltern Writers’ duties, I recently had the pleasure of meeting Waterstone’s longest serving manager, Martin Latham, who entertained a packed Wendover Library Room with advice for authors.

I have also launched yet another Short Story Competition for Chiltern Writers having persuaded the ever fragrant journalist and author Tessa Harris to be our judge.

Finally, my Twitter following is escalating by the day. Over 300 fellow twits now receive my daily tips and anecdotes. Well, when I say daily, I mean as often as I can. Or, at least, as often as I remember . . .

Monday, 30 January 2012

Commitments, Commitments, Commitments

Less than a month into the new year and I am filled with jubilation since 2012 has begun with unbridled variety and rampant energy. For no sooner had the non drop pine been escorted from our drawing room - and the non drop needles hand picked from the shag pile - than literary appointments began to fill my leather bound diary.

Harpenden Writers were first off the mark and I eagerly anticipate sharing my work and running a Humour Writing Workshop with them just a few days before celebrations for my wedding anniversary in May.

Allow me to continue with further forthcoming engagements.

In a neighbouring county, organisers of the Chalfont St Giles and Jordans Literary Festival wish to include my Inspiration to Write Workshop in this year’s programme. And to complete my trio of county appearances only last Saturday I journeyed to Bedfordshire in order to appear on BBC Three Counties Radio where the effervescent Gareth Wesley interviewed me about Chiltern Writers and how to convert literary ideas into written words.

However,despite said obligations I have still found time to organise another course. My Inspiration to Write (a more fully developed and matured version of my Festival workshop as detailed above) begins mid April and will consist of 6 weekly two hour sessions during which I will entice your imagination, nurture your creativity and delve into your personal experiences, using all of these unique qualities to generate prose. Please go to my Writing Workshops and Events page for further minutiae.

In the meantime, I am saddened to report that The Lady’s Lady Ambassador initiative has been suspended. Who knows whether it will resurface at some future date? I do hope so. However, I have taken great pleasure in my association with this iconic weekly and particularly my colleague at Bedford Street HQ, Susan Wade Weeks, mother of the phenomenally talented brace of daughters, Perdita and Honeysuckle.

Phew, I’m breathless just reading about my itinerary.

Yet you know, however hectic my schedule, at the end of the day I nestle down in my king size with a mug of hot cocoa and invariably find a few precious moments to do a spot of reading. My present tome is The Necessary Aptitude, an exceptionally verbose work by the beautiful Pam Ayres whom I was privileged to meet last autumn. Not only talented, witty and eloquent, Miss Ayres even found time to endorse my copy “To The Current Mrs Smith!” Now I wonder why she felt the need for an exclamation mark . . .