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The FREE online creative writing magazine

Summer 2015


Issue 6

Publications are not a teaching qualification Emma Segar

The Changing Character of Fiction N.E. David

The Dating Game Simon Whaley


New Fiction


Summer 2015

We are now in midsummer, though those of us in Ireland might dispute that. We have a lovely summery cover though and we have to thank artist, vocalist and writer Dielle Ciesco to thank for use of the painting. Tonal artist and writer Stuart Davies who is her husband provided two of our previous lovely covers.

chat-up lines could have editors and publishers remembering us for all of the wrong reasons. Find out how to take the more professional approach in The Dating Game.

Also in this issue, Sharon Boothroyd tells us the Secret to Competition Success and How to Set Up an Online Writing Group, and we have an interview with our very own Writer's Wheel team member, successful author Sarah-Beth Watkins. We also have the final instalment of our short fiction series Hera Pan by Helen NoIn this issue N. E. David discusses the changing ble. As well as three further fabulous short stocharacter of literary fiction and challenges the ries, we have Jennifer Copley to thank for this assumption of whether it is necessary for a piece issue's poetry collection. of literature to be meaningful or whether we should not simply enjoy a book for the sake of As well as other helpful articles and tips on writthe story itself rather than its effect. Creative ing in this issue. You can find more writing tips writing teacher Emma Segar talks about dislik- through the following websites: ing the idea that creative writing courses should be an opportunity to bask in the presence of ge- Facebook nius. How talent is not infectious and how Twitter learning and teaching requires hard work, no Compass Blog matter how much natural aptitude the teacher or students start out with. And regular contributor Simon Whaley observes that writing is a bit Happy Writing, like speed-dating. If we’re not flirting with publishers and agents, then we’re seducing editors The Writer's Wheel Team with our ideas and readers with our passion for words. The trouble is, we really should take the more professional approach. After all, corny

Writer’s Wheel now invites contributions for the next issue of the on-line quarterly magazine. There is no payment as Writer’s Wheel is purely a voluntary effort. So please do include links.

reflect the hands-on, practical nut and bolts approach to writing rather than philosophical ‘why we write’ reflections.

We are particularly interested in features, articles and interviews from beginners, authors, publishers and readers on all writing -related subjects. Writer’s Wheel is a stable mate of Compass Books, the writers’ resource imprint of John Hunt Publishing and the material submitted for consideration should

We will be featuring extracts from both fact and fiction already published by JHP authors but we are also interested in receiving original short stories up to 2500 words and flashfiction of 1000 words maximum, regardless of whether you are a JHP author or not. Stories may be previously published or part

Articles: 1000-2000 words.

of a published anthology or collection. Original poetry should be a maximum of 40 lines. Please accompany submissions with by an author photograph and a 30 word biography. Photographs that enhance the submission will also be considered. Please contact the editor through our website and you will be given the email address. Material that is date-related can be submitted for entry on the Compass Books blog. 3

From the Editor's Desk


Articles Publications are not a teaching qualification Emma Segar


How to Set Up an Online Writing Group S. Bee


Productivity for Writers Autumn Barlow


The Changing Character of Fiction N. E. David


The Dating Game Simon Whaley

Young Adult Books Special Offer!


The Secret of Competition Success S. Bee


Why am I doing this? Peter Cresswell


Get Your Act Together Jenny Roche


Short Fiction Hera Pan: Village Matriarch Part 3 Dark Secrets Helen Noble



Another Missing Local Girl S. Bee


Inside the Palisade K. C. Maguire


A Young Castrato Veryan Williams-Wynn


An Interview With Sarah-Beth Watkins Suzanne Ruthven


The Mystery of the Clothes on the Beach Peter Bartram


Write, Write Often, Write Well Barbara Tako


Regular Features

Let Your Unconscious Help Overcome Your Writer’s Block Clarke W. Owens


Autumn Barlow Interviews Helen Noble


Contributor's Guidelines


Poetry Jennifer Copley


Competitions & Events


A big thank you to the lovely Dielle Ciesco for providing the painting for our front cover. Dielle Ciesco, author of The Unknown Mother and Your True Voice, is in love with the quest to express the inexpressible. She is also a vocalist, healer, and artist inspired by the colors, textures, and feelings that the rich and vibrant versatility of oils provides. She aspires to create paintings that uplift and reconnect us with our deeply mysterious origins: “However and whenever we allow life to create through us, it is an act of love that reminds us who we are.”

She and her husband, Stuart, live in the perfect light in France. Visit her at To purchase prints:


Summer 2015 ebook publisher, for four years. Autumn writes light romance and cozy mysteries under a penname and works as a freelance editor for JHP, and for independent authors. has worked for John Hunt Publishing since 2009 in editorial and marketing. She is the author of five MBS books, and a children’s novel The Changeling Quest (and has contributed to several others), with many articles published in popular MBS magazines. Over several years she enjoyed guest lecturing at a UK university, and still enjoys teaching creative writing. She has a degree in Imaginative Writing and Literature, and has studied both Writing and Research at postgraduate level. Maria lives in County Cork, Ireland.

is the author of over a dozen writing books, including three for writers: The Positively Productive Writer, Photography for Writers, and The Complete Article Writer. He’s also written over 600 articles for publications as diverse as BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Outdoor Photography, and The Simple Things. His short stories have appeared in Take a Break, The People’s Friend, Ireland’s Own and Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special.

is a reader and copy editor for John Hunt Publishing. Krystina has a First Class degree in Imaginative Writing and Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. She is the author of Mistflower the Loneliest Mouse, a children’s novel, and has had several short stories published as well as online articles on dream interpretation and other subjects. Krystina travels internationally to tutor in writing workshops as well as privately mentoring new writers of adult and children’s fiction. She is currently working on an adult supernatural fiction novel. She lives in the UK.

is a published poet, short-story writer and novelist. Her poems have been published in a variety of small press magazines, both in the UK and overseas and her short stories have been published in a variety of women's magazines in the UK and in Australia. She is the author of Surfing the Rainbow and co-author with Val Andrews of Unlock Your Creativity. Sue enjoys running workshops and encouraging other writers along the path to publication. She is a Home Study Tutor for Writers' News Magazine and lives in Worcestershire, has been a freelance writer for over UK 20 years writing for magazines and websites, on a wide range of topics. She has written over 300 articles for the web. SarahBeth also tutors creative writing and journalism courses for is the author of hundreds of articles and various colleges and community centres as well as working as fifteen published books and plays. He writes mainly on the a copyeditor and proofreader for JHP and Xchyler Publishing. topics of historical crime and on writing skills, but also light She is the author of Telling Life's Tales, The Writer's Internet, stage comedies. He has worked in a variety of community The Lifestyle Writer and Life Coaching for Writers available through Compass Books. Her history books are Ireland's Suffra- settings and as a university lecturer at Manchester Metropoligettes and Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged tan University and the Open University. His novel The Bone Daughter of King Henry VIII. She lives in County Wexford, Ire- Mill is set in the murky world of body snatching in 1820s Stoke. He is the author of Creating Convincing Characters. He also land. writes songs for The Pie Men, a light-hearted musical duo. He lives in Shropshire, UK.

has authored over 30 titles in the country lore, MB&S and creative writing genres, as well as ghostwriting a further ten books for other people, including a field sports autobiography that was nominated for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. She has also tutored at writers’ workshops including The Annual Writers’ Conference (Winchester College), The Summer School (University of Wales), Horncastle College (Lincolnshire), the Cheltenham Literature Festival and the Welsh Academy - following which she was invited to become a full member of the Academi in recognition of her contribution to literature in Wales. She lives in South Tipperary, Ireland. is a writer and editor based in North West England. She developed the Top Hat Books imprint, which publishes historical fiction that inspires, challenges and entertains. She writes regularly for Cycling Active Magazine and other fitness publications and has written fiction for Take A Break, People's Friend, Women's Own and Woman. She was a Managing Editor for loveyoudivine Alterotica, a US-based

is the author of three full collections of poetry and four pamphlets including Ice (Smith/Doorstop), Unsafe Monuments (Arrowhead), Beans in Snow (Smokestack), Living Daylights (Happenstance) and Mr Trickfeather (Like This Press). Her work has appeared in The Rialto, The North, PN Review, the Independent on Sunday, the Forward Prize Anthology and GCSE Poetry Unseen revision papers. Her latest collection, Sisters (Smokestack), was published last year. It burst into life after seeing a Victorian post-mortem photograph of two sisters. is a director of a legal practice. She is also a psychology graduate, experienced in working with people challenging circumstances. Privileged to have witnessed the resilience of the human spirit, Helen believes that it is only by being true to our nature and honouring our integrity that we can follow our dreams. Acknowledging our roots allows us to spread our branches in new directions. She is the author of Tears of a Phoenix, The 49th Day and Scorpio Moons. She lives in Pembrokeshire, UK.


Emma Segar “I mean this one is at a very highly respected university but I've never heard of the tutor if she is published what has she written???” says a post on the Mythic Scribes writers’ forum, with reference to my course on Writing Novels and Short Stories at the University of Liverpool’s Continuing Education department.

Googling yourself can be an unsettling experience. Like Nietzsche’s abyss, if you gaze too long into your search results, you might find somebody who has also been looking into you. Mercifully, the conversation moved onto the value of creative writing courses in general, so that my status as a fraudulent, unpublished imposter was spared further scrutiny, except by me. What possible insights (aside from the use of full stops and the sufficiency of a single question mark) can prospective writers hope to gain from a tutor who hasn’t been published? If I know my craft well enough to teach it, surely I should be practising it with some level of success. Most of the fiction I’ve written has been for academic purposes, or for my own, and instead of sitting respectably on bookshop shelves, clad in a modest dust-jacket, it flaunts itself on the internet for all to see or hides away on a hard drive, biding its time. I like to experiment with collaborative writing and the emerging narrative forms coming out of social media, forms that complicate or outright bypass copyright and sale, so that there’s nothing much to interest a publisher. I’m not suggesting for a minute that my writing is too pure to be sold, or that I’m above such tawdry concerns as earning a living. Getting paid for writing is a dream I still intend to pursue, eventually. Right now, though, I’m just trying to find enough teaching to pay the bills, and the time and energy to seriously concentrate on my own potentially publishable work seems a distant luxury. It’s less a case of 6

“those who can’t, teach” than “those who teach, can’t.” They’re too busy teaching. On one level, it’s understandable that potential students want to see me structure a coherent plot out of articulate sentences before signing up for my course. If they’re investigating whether or not I can write competently, then I don’t blame them for going after some evidence. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the greater concern is whether what I write is sufficiently acclaimed to be worth emulating, as if I were going to teach my class how to write like me, rather than how to develop their own styles and voices. There is a conspicuous lack of concern over whether or not I’m able to teach. Nobody looks up a creative writing tutor and questions whether they have a Cert Ed, or a relevant subject specialism, or over a decade of classroom experience beginning in adult literacy tuition: the very nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation and syntax, the palette and brushes of a writer. I dislike the idea that creative writing courses should be an opportunity to bask in the presence of genius. Talent is not infectious. Learning and teaching requires hard work, no matter how much natural aptitude the teacher or students start out with. Those who expect to learn a practical craft by taking a few notes, while a great master imparts wisdom, would be disappointed by my course, which involves close reading, intensive group discussion, analysis of the mechanics of good writing (not just what works but how and why it works), and extensive practice of techniques under the constant and rigorous appraisal of peers and self-critical judgement. Also fun, games, jokes, collaborative exercises, confidence building and mutual support. Forget all the qualifications and experience I listed above: my proudest achievement is that I’ve had complaints from the class next door because my students were laughing too loud.

Summer 2015 You can understand the mistake, the emphasis on writing rather than teaching credentials, given that some lauded writers and professors of Creative Writing are loudly denying that it can be taught at all. Take Hanif Kureishi, an accomplished writer with many publications and awards but no teaching qualifications or experience, who stood in front of undergraduate students, being brilliant and successful at them just as hard as he could for three long years, before declaring to the world that the exercise was pointless and made very little difference to their abilities. What other explanation can there be, except that his talent and that of other great writers is innate and unteachable? Except, perhaps, the possibility that he’s not a great teacher, that he never wanted to be a teacher in the first place, that he holds his students in unconcealed contempt and considers the whole business sordid and beneath his dignity. Unsurprisingly, students have more chance of making genuine progress when guided by people who are not only trained to teach, but have chosen to do so for their living, who prioritise their teaching above their own writing because they care about it and even enjoy it.

This isn’t to say that successful writers can’t also be great teachers. I was one of the early takers of the Imaginative Writing degree at Liverpool JMU, and a few publications didn’t stop Michael Carson, Jenny Newman and Edmund Cusick from running practical workshops and giving incisive feedback that I still look back on for inspiration. Even best-selling, award-winning writers can give others the benefit of their knowledge and experience, provided they have enough self-awareness to understand where their success came from, to separate replicable techniques from simple good luck. Many of the available writing guides contain little beyond the standard advice on planning, editing and time management, but some stand out as genuinely useful. Ursula Le Guin, in particular, writes extensively on her writing processes, and offers analysis and workshop suggestions in Steering the Craft that constitute the clearest, most comprehensive, practical and useable hands-on guide to writing that I’ve so far found in print. I recommend it to all my students.

However, as students frequently point out to me (a little plaintively, as if hoping I can point them towards an easier road, or at least offer them a lift) there are also exceptional writers who rarely think about their processes, who don’t plan, don’t analyse how their choice of syntax, plot structure and viewpoint affect the overall theme and style of their work. Or, more accurately (as I try to explain) they probably think about those things a great deal, but might not be practiced at recognising or articulating those thoughts, because they've never had to explain them to others: they are internal processes, which don’t need to be analysed as long as they’re working effectively. These people tend to get rather impatient when asked questions about how to write, because they don't really know how they write, they believe they just do it. They’re wrong: they have processes as complex and as strewn with rejected plans and structural edits and pacing issues and additional research and painstaking rewrites as anybody else’s. They just don’t watch themselves dealing with those problems or note the replicable strategies they use, because they don’t need to. They don't know how to share their knowledge or set the challenges that develop other people's skills, because that requires an entirely different discipline and training. It requires a teacher.

Writers know how to write, teachers know how to teach, and yes, Creative Writing tutors should know both, but you can’t judge their proficiency at one from their credentials in the other. If you’re in a position to choose your tutor, remember one thing: a competent writer who can really teach will be far more useful to you than a gifted and accomplished one who can’t.

Emma Segar teaches evening classes on Writing Novels and Short Stories and Writing for Children at the Continuing Education department at the University of Liverpool. She is currently studying for a PhD in The Relational Poetics of Blog Fiction at Edge Hill University.


Setting up an online writing group needn't be difficult. I established my own online writing group, Fiction Addiction, in February 2010 – and it's still going strong today. Here are fifteen hints and tips you need to run your own successful online writing group.

1. Why did I want to set up my own online writing group? It was proving difficult for me to find honest opinions about my work from other writers, and I couldn't afford to pay for professional critiques all the time. Plus, on a recent creative writing course, the tutor didn't know anything about the women's fiction magazine market either, which was the market I wanted to write for. Also, some writers can't find a creative writing group in their local area, or can't get to one because it's too far away. If, like me, you haven't got a car, it can be difficult getting there and in winter it's not pleasant hanging about in the cold and dark waiting for buses. 2. Online only is easy to fit around daily life An online group offers more flexibility than a normal writing group. There's no set time or place to meet, no buses to catch, and no hurry to give feedback on work. There's no laptop or paperwork to carry either and no copies to give out. There's no bad weather to contend with, no car parking hassle, no child care to organise, no worry about members not turning up and no tea and coffee making duties! Then there's the global appeal. Fiction Addiction has reached across the world – as well as the UK, we've had members based in Singapore, South Africa, China and Australia. 3. Choose a genre Fiction Addiction is specific – we focus on fiction for the women's magazine market. Consider setting up a group that focuses on a specific genre, such as horror, thriller, crime, sci fi, ghost, chicklit or children's fiction. And is it for stories or novels? Or both? You could run an online poetry group or one that simply offers beta reading and feedback for unpublished novels. To recruit members, it's a good idea to target writers who are not just interested, but deeply passionate about your chosen genre and market – ideally, you'd like members to stay in your group as long as possible.


4. Have open membership A lot of online writing groups are closed, and don't accept new members. It's a great pity. From my experience, I think this policy makes a group stale and dull. New members bring a fresh perspective. Plus, more members mean extra pairs of eyes that can often spot things amiss. I suggest you hold open membership, just in case your members decide to leave. Members leave for a variety of reasons. Some folk don't have time to write anything at all, let alone contribute to an online group! 5. Recruiting Members Back in 2010, I decided the first thing I needed to do was recruit members. I wrote an appeal (I kept it brief and to the point) and asked writer Kath McGurl if she would publish it on her very popular womagwriterblogspot. (This blog spot site is now run by Patsy Collins). She did do, and writer Sally Jenkins very kindly featured my appeal on her blog in March 2011 too. You could post information on FB or Twitter, or offer to be a guest blogger and mention it there. Find sites that feature your chosen genre and ask the webmaster to publish an appeal on their site. The online writing community are usually very willing to help. 6. Membership fees To charge, or not to charge? If you'd like to earn an extra income, consider charging members a small fee to join. However, if you do this, be aware. Because they've paid to join, members may expect a lot more – e.g. long critiques that are almost professional standard. Feedback on work should be treated as priority and responded to very quickly too. If you decide to go down this route, you may find a lot of professional editors and pro proof readers eager to join, when really, all they want to do is sell their services privately. You could discover that people who own and run digital publishing companies wanting to join -especially if your group looks at novels. Fiction Addiction is free to join – it always has been. 7. Be prepared for an onslaught! At the start, I was expecting just one or two enquiries – yet I was delighted and surprised with requests from over 20 people wanting to join! Be aware that running an online group can take up a great deal of time – for you and the members. Make

Summer 2015 sure you allocate at least thirty minutes a day to catch up with messages, work and feedback. 8. Get a website or Facebook page Because of the daily enquiries, I realised that I needed to keep all the information about the group in one place. My husband had already designed a website for me, so we decided to put the information on there. ( It didn't seem worth the hassle of a new site, just for three pages of information. To keep costs down, we decided to pick a free website. Of course, you needn't bother with a website. An alternative option is to simply post your group's details on a Facebook page. In fact, you could run it completely on FB if you prefer. We're not on Facebook and Twitter, because I like to the keep the group on an email basis only. 9. Pick a suitable name for your group 'What will we call our group?' was one of my group's first questions. As I hadn't anticipated a lot of members, I hadn't thought of a group name at all! A former member gave us the name Fiction Addiction and I've stuck with it. I suggest that you keep your group name short and snappy. It'll be easy to remember and easy to search for online too. 10. Have a clear goal The idea behind Fiction Addiction is to test our work on members before subbing out to the magazines. We offer support, feedback, advice, encouragement and motivation. Messages, work and feedback are sent in a 'round robin' email – sent to all the members at the same time. I do expect members to contribute, even if it's once a month. If I haven't heard from a member in a while, I will ask them to drop out (and re-join again when they have more time) because it's not fair on any of us. It's pointless sending chat and work out to someone who isn't going to respond. 11. Hitches Of course, it hasn't all run smoothly! The over-use of the red pen has been a problem for some. It's not really a group for academics, intellectuals, professional proof readers or professional editors, yet we have had some members who have gone through every single line in the document with a fine tooth comb, correcting all the typos, etc. Typos can easily be corrected later – bear in mind that most work is a first draft of a new story, and was probably written in an excited rush! While I appreciate their time and effort, to me, the most important part is what members think of the story itself and the intended market. For example, a lot of writers insist on using indents in their work, yet the fiction editor of Take a Break's Fiction Feast magazine asks writers to take these out on

any accepted stories. Presentation of work is covered in the fiction guidelines – different magazines hold different requirements. Anyone can request these – all are sent free of charge. 12. No Guarantees There's no guarantee that every member will comment on every piece of work – members are often away on holiday, moving home, or simply busy with their jobs, families or a longer WIP. (Work in progress). Christmas, summer, half-term holidays and Easter are quiet times for Fiction Addiction. Then there's technical problems – attachments that won't open, dodgy broadband connections, server hitches, PC's and laptops giving up the ghost… 13. Be kind to each other It can be very tempting to say to a member: 'This is how your story should be written.' Members have even re-drafted their pieces for them. Yet every writer is different and I expect members to respect this. A better option is to offer a series of suggestions. My advice is to be kind, yet honest, which I admit can be tricky! It's entirely up to the writer what they do with feedback – they don't have to use it. It's the same principle in any writing group, whether it's an online one or not! 14. It's good to share We don't just read and review stories. We look at competition entries and first chapters of novels, too, plus re-drafts of stories and other bits and bobs. We also share details of story competitions and online fiction projects, and any other snippets of interest, such as writing awards and possible new markets. 15. Has it been worth the effort? Yes. It's been great fun! Five years on, it's still lovely to read work and receive warm messages. We can commiserate or congratulate and we all understand our passion to succeed. We've had lots of successes when a writer has tweaked a story after receiving feedback from members – and this includes me! One of the first stories I sent round Fiction Addiction was an office girl’s story called The Game. After initial feedback and lots of re-drafting, I sent it to PRIMA magazine. It won their short story competition and was published in the May 2013 edition. My life has become richer because of my online writing group – and I'm sure that yours will be too!

S.BEE is the writing name of Sharon Boothroyd. Since 2010, she has had a wide range of letters, poems and stories published in national UK magazines. She edits an e-magazine :


Autumn Barlow Whether you are a full time writer or snatch thirty minutes from time to time, it can sometimes be difficult to stay on track. I came to fiction from journalism, and so have an advantage (I think) in my mental attitude: I do not allow myself to have writers’ block any more than my dad would get plumbers’ block. I am used to deadlines and word counts, and I have applied that rigorous work ethic to writing novels. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile is.

Even so, there are days when I could really use a boss to stand behind me with a large stick, slamming it onto my fingers every time they stray towards another biscuit or I twitch the mouse onto Buzzfeed. So here are some apps, websites and tips that have helped me Get Things Done. 1. Make others hold you to account I am a member of an online group that uses a private chatroom via a website facility called Mibbit. It’s a global group and there are always people “in chat.” We undertake thirty-minute “sprints” where we all agree a time to start writing, and thirty minutes later, we compare word counts and talk about random nonsense for five minutes. If you are not in any online groups, try where you can join a public chat or create one with a small circle of friends. 2. Pomodoro The “sprints” I mention above are a type of Pomodoro technique, where you work for a set length of time and then goof off for a short while. There are apps for all the browsers that will simply cut you off from all internet browsing while you are in “work mode.” You might feel twitchy and make excuses – “But I NEED to fact-check on Wikipedia.” No, you don’t. Make a note, and do your research at another time. I time my Pomodoro sprints with this online countdown: 3. Write clean By which I mean, get rid of your distractions. If the online apps to stop you messing around online are not enough, then take drastic action. I heard of one woman who sent the internet router to work with her husband. She HAD to write all day. It was that, or housework. No meaningless browsing! 4. Small targets, big goals Break up the writing process. Whether you are a plotter or a pantser or some strange combination, mark the small milestones along the way - it can help to stop you getting overwhelmed. 5. Music and noise This is worth experimenting with. This past month I tried out the free trial of which claims to be scientifically proven to aid concentration. I


found it mildly helpful, but others swear by it. Another option is to create a playlist on Spotify or some other player. Generally people find it is easier to concentrate if the music is non-verbal or in a language unfamiliar to them. Also, don’t listen to music you usually listen to as you can get hooked into it and pulled out of the writing. I generally play movie soundtracks on YouTube. If you are trying to work in a noisy environment, try types of white or pink noise. You can play them online or download them to your device (these are also good for insomniacs!). Try Some people find it easier to concentrate with the hum of a coffee shop. So, either get out and work in a public place, or use Spotify or YouTube to play ambient café sounds in the background. 6. Forgive yourself Don’t become a slave to targets and goals. In spite of my sneering at writers’ block, some days, I acknowledge, writing can be difficult. Sometimes, when you only have a scant few minutes to write, that lack of time can hinder you – you know you can’t waste it, you fret about making the most of it, you get stuck with the fear that you might waste it… and the moment has passed and you’ve missed your chance. Don’t beat yourself up. Look to other writers and their schedules for inspiration, but don’t let their apparent success put you down. Remember that there is reporting bias – people shout about how great they are, but rarely confess to the mistakes and the woes.

If the words aren’t flowing, there are a million other writing-related things you can do with your time. And the most useful one of all? Reading. Allow yourself time to recharge and refill the well of inspiration – consider that this is still work, after all. So turn off the computer, go for a walk, potter round your library, chat to a neighbour, listen to some friends, and be assured that this, too, is an important and productive use of your writing time. (Buzzfeed, alas, is not. Sorry.) Autumn is a writer and editor based in North West England. She developed the Top Hat Books imprint, which publishes historical fiction that inspires, challenges and entertains. She writes regularly for Cycling Active Magazine and other fitness publications. She has written fiction for Take A Break, People's Friend, Women's Own and Woman. She was a Managing Editor for loveyoudivine Alterotica, a US-based ebook publisher, for four years. She also writes light romance and cozy mysteries under a penname. She works as a freelance editor for JHP, and for independent authors.

Summer 2015

N.E. David INTRODUCTION Not for the first time, I think I’m about to offend someone. So for those of you who give, or like to attend, creative writing courses, I’d advise you to look away now… I’ve never done either. As far as giving them is concerned, it’s not that I don’t count myself a good enough writer – it’s simply that I have no desire to ‘teach’ other people how to write. I’m not even sure it would be possible for me to do so. For me there’s something vaguely arrogant about the idea that I could ever presume to give lectures on the ‘art’ of writing. Don’t get me wrong - I’m not precious about it either. I’m quite happy to share my experiences of writing with anyone who asks. If they can gain something from that – so much the better. But I wouldn’t want to force it on my worst enemy. As for attending them, I confess I have what is a probably unwarranted fear that by conforming to the norms they propound, I will lose what little creativity I already possess. Better to be untutored and inventive than shackled by someone else’s thinking. Plus, the fact that they seem to play to my rebellious streak. I remember a writing colleague saying he’d been told that we should never use the word ‘suddenly’. My instant reaction was to go home and put ‘suddenly’ in my work in as many places as possible. One of the maxims that circulate on such courses is that the main protagonist in modern fiction needs to undergo ‘change’ through some form of physical or spiritual journey. I want to challenge this assumption and ask whether this is necessary for a piece of literature to be meaningful or whether we should not simply enjoy a book for the sake of the story itself rather than its effect. I should add that I’m purely talking about literary fiction here, since I have no knowledge of the requirements of other genres. In a moment we’ll look at this theory in detail but let me begin with a definition of character. Not my definition, I hasten to add, but one borrowed from a course attended by another of my writing colleagues. CHARACTER Major or central characters are vital to the development and resolution of the conflict. In other words, the plot and resolution of conflict revolves around these characters.

Protagonist – The protagonist is the central person in a story, and is often referred to as the story's main character. He or she (or they) is faced with a conflict that must be resolved. The protagonist may not always be admirable (e.g. an anti-hero); nevertheless s/he must command involvement on the part of the reader, or better yet, empathy. Antagonist – The antagonist is the character(s) (or situation) that represents the opposition against which the protagonist must contend. In other words, the antagonist is an obstacle that the protagonist must overcome. Dynamic – A dynamic character is a person who changes over time, usually as a result of resolving a central conflict or facing a major crisis. Most dynamic characters tend to be central rather than peripheral characters, because resolving the conflict is the major role of central characters. Static – A static character is someone who does not change over time; his or her personality does not transform or evolve. Now let’s examine the theory. Here it is as expounded by Novel Writing Help on their website at CHARACTER CHANGE IN NOVELS When you think about it, a plot in a novel is ultimately all about character change. Without the central character undergoing a transformation, there would be little point in writing or reading fiction at all. Seeing a fictional character we care about undergo a momentous experience (in the form of the novel's plot) and emerge changed as a result of that experience (hopefully for the better), is somehow lifeaffirming for writer and reader alike. And so, when plotting your own novel, never lose sight of the fact that the way your central character is at the beginning and the end, and the difference


between the two, is of paramount importance. (This change, incidentally, is often called the character arc.) CHARACTER CHANGE IN THE REAL WORLD Have you noticed that, in real life, people don't tend to change very much at all. By the time they reach adulthood, a person's character is more or less set, and that is the way it stays. Oh sure, they might make the occasional effort to change - to be more tolerant, perhaps – but sooner or later they slip back into their old ways. That is why fiction is so much better than real life…   

The bad become good. The weak become strong. The joyless become happy.

…and the changes tend to stick, too (or at least us readers like to imagine that the character change is permanent once we have closed the final page of the book). Of course, not all characters undergo transformation in a novel. It is usually only the leading man or woman who undergoes this change. The rest of the fictional characters remain precisely how they were at the beginning. So what I am about to say really only applies to your protagonist. (In fact, a novel's protagonist, by definition, is the one who is transformed.) THE THEORY OF CHARACTER CHANGE In a nutshell, the theory goes as follows…

"In reality people change, however slightly, as a result of their experiences. There must be some sort of conversion brought about by the events you devise; the central character must develop along with the novel and acquire new attitudes – preferably wiser ones." – Dianne Doubtfire 1. 2.



A character in a novel starts out a certain way – as a happy, contented family man, say. Their world is then thrown into confusion by the triggering event of the plot, and they are forced to act to make things right again. (The man's young daughter is kidnapped, say, and he must find her safe and well if he wants to return to a happy family life.) In trying to achieve their goal, however, the character is forced to confront their innermost self, and they usually end up changed in some fashion. (The man finds his daughter, but he finishes up fearful and distrusting.)

Changes are triggered in a character when they undergo a momentous event. They are unlikely to be changed in any significant way by a trip to the seaside. But if they save someone from drowning while they are there – or fail to save them – they will almost certainly arrive home with their internal make-up altered. Now, when a fictional character undergoes such a momentous experience, there are three possible outcomes… No Change Imagine a story in which a character wakes up in the morning and goes to work to discover they have been fired. Are they upset? A little, at first – but at least they can now go home to watch some golf on TV. So they go home and switch on the golf, completely unaffected. Zzzzzzzzz! If characters aren't altered by the novel's events, not even a little, then the events they experience are simply not big enough. By "big," I don't mean there has to be explosions and car chases. A scene showing a family sitting down for a meal has just as much potential for drama as the same family aboard a hijacked airliner. It is simply that the events, whether large or small, dramatic or quieter in nature, should have consequences for the characters concerned. Massive Change Look no further than Ebenezer Scrooge for the perfect example of this kind of change… 

At the beginning of the story, Scrooge is the most mean-spirited, miserly man who has ever lived. (Hey, your name doesn't enter the English language for nothing!)  Scrooge then experiences the story's core event: the three visits by the Ghosts of Christmas.  Finally, he wakes up the next morning and is suddenly the most generous, joyous man in old London Town. Now, I am not having a dig at Dickens here. (He is one of my favorite writers, and A Christmas Carol is one of the most perfect stories ever told. But in most novels, particularly in the 21st century, having the protagonist change so suddenly and so completely would frankly be laughable. If you are writing a modern fairy tale, fine. If not, go for the third option...

Summer 2015 Subtle Change Aim to be as light-handed as possible when charting your protagonist's change. And that really is the best way I can explain it. Go for more of a slight shift in the main character's consciousness than a Scrooge-like total transformation and you won't go far wrong. AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW All admirable stuff, much of which I have to say I agree with, but does it have to be that way? I have a contrary argument, but firstly let me pick a few nits. We’re told that ‘Seeing a fictional character… emerge changed… (hopefully for the better) is somehow lifeaffirming…’ Why better? Why not worse? If every novel ended happily, this would be to deny some of the very best aspects of tragedy – a subject, incidentally which is close to my heart.

My audience in Leeds gasped when I read them the line ‘That is why fiction is so much "better" than real life…’ I’m not surprised. My whole purpose in writing novels is to try and record reality and to try and understand what it means to be human in the modern day and age. For me, without real life there can be no fiction. And ‘a novel's protagonist, by definition, is the one who is transformed’ Whose definition is that? Not my Collins dictionary – according to them, a protagonist is merely a main character, no mention of the need to change. But these, as I say, are nits. The fundamental proposition, from which all else flows, is this. ‘Without the central character undergoing a transformation, there would be little point in writing or reading fiction at all.’ I disagree and I can think of at least three good reasons why. 1. The Power of Story. Let me illustrate this with an example. A TOWN LIKE ALICE (Neville Shute) is one of my favourite novels. The main character is a woman, Jean Paget, and we’re not concerned with character change at all. The strength of the book lies in the power of the story and the fact that Paget’s unshakeable self-belief and optimism overcomes every obstacle and gives us all hope. Without this book, my life would be all the poorer.

2. The Exposition of Character The purpose of a novel can be to express a character, whether that character changes or not. Jean Paget is one such example. Another is Holden Caulfield in JD. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. Here the author wants to show us a picture of disaffected and purposeless youth. He succeeds, to the extent that by the end of the book we want to take Holden Caulfield by the shoulders, give him a good shake and tell him to wake up and smell the coffee. He doesn’t, and his refusal to change leaves us with a great feeling of despair – a perfectly valid sentiment. 3. The Expression of an Idea or Moral Many novelists want to tell us something about the world or how we should behave within it. SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5 is supposed to be a warning to us of the horrors of war. Its main character is Billy Pilgrim whom we meet in the aftermath. Whatever changes he has suffered (if any) have already occurred and the book does nothing more than record his present condition. I could be wrong here as I never understood much of what was going on in the book but the generally accepted opinion is that this is a modern masterpiece. So a novel is not just about character transformation but can be much, much more. I sincerely hope so, since in my new book, THE BURDEN, my main protagonist doesn’t change. Like Billy Pilgrim, the events that moulded his character took place earlier on in life and in the latter stages of the story he fails to move forward. Summoned to his dying father’s bedside to hear the great secret which has been kept from him throughout, his father dies before it can be delivered. Frank returns home none the wiser and consequently unaltered. I contend this doesn’t matter, and in fact it has to be so because without this there is no irony in the final scene, when he goes back to his mother. By now the reader is only too well aware of the secret and is left to conclude what will happen to Frank when he eventually finds out, as he surely will. I’d better be right – otherwise I’ve just wasted two years of precious writing time. THE BURDEN is published by John Hunt Publishing and is available as follows: UK : US : 13

Simon Whaley Writing is a bit like speed-dating, isn’t it? If we’re not flirting with publishers and agents, then we’re seducing editors with our ideas and readers with our passion for words. The trouble is, we really should take the more professional approach. After all, corny chat-up lines could have editors and publishers remembering us for all of the wrong reasons. Making a good impression requires a decent photo, a suitable biography and, in some cases, an up to date writing CV.

with. In other words, it didn’t feel as if I were posing.’ It’s called a head and shoulders pose because that’s all readers need to see. Frequently, the image is used at a small size, so our faces need to fill the frame. Don’t go through holiday snaps and use a photo with the Eiffel Tower sticking out of the top of your head, and some unknown person’s arm draped around your neck. Remember, this is a business. You need to convey a professional image.

If we sell an article or a short story to a magazine the editor might ask us for a head-and-shoulders photo and a brief 50-word biography. Approach an agent or a publisher with a book idea, or a novel, and they may ask to see a full writing curriculum vitae with all of our writing achievements listed. Prepare these in advance and we’ll come across as cool, calm and someone to do business with, rather than the tongue-tied twit who’s gone all coy because someone’s suddenly taken a fancy to us.

Judith Cranswick, author of the Fiona Mason mysteries, agrees. ‘Your photograph is your first selling point. It needs to look professional. The one on my website welcome page with a black background is quite old now, but the reason I haven’t yet replaced it is that I’ve decided the dark background is essential.’ If you visit her website,, the dark background of her author photo echoes the background image of her website, designed to create a dark and moody atmosphere to reflect the edginess of her psychological stand-alone novels. However, Judith uses other photos too. ‘My preference would be to use one photo for everything, but there may be times when as a writer you need something different. It really depends upon the circumstances.’

Camera Conundrum Many magazines include snapshots of their contributors. These may all appear on one page together or be placed on the page where their article or story is used. Authors frequently need a photo to go on their book’s cover. I, like many, hate having my photo taken, but rather than grin and bear it (because that produces images more suited to police Wanted posters) we should invest some time and effort into producing something suitable. The right photograph creates a brand image, but it should also convey our character. So what would you like your photograph to say about you and your writing? Is one photo sufficient, or do you need several: each representing a different market you write for? Suzanne Ruthven, whose latest book is Creating Meaningful Dialogue (Compass Points), has writing interests that include the occult, horror, and MBS (mind, body & spirit) titles. She was looking for an image that encapsulated all of these elements, but also reflected her own character. It was a professional photographer who helped her achieve this image. ‘My photograph was one of a make-over series and my favourite. I also happen to be a ‘hat’ person so it wasn’t something out of character. The all-black image is another echo of my Gothic Society days, and the professional photographer suggested the pose, but it was one I was comfortable 14

Someone who understands the benefits of having more than one publicity photo is Marvin Close. His television credits include Emmerdale, Coronation Street, and Tracey Beaker. He’s written eight plays for the professional stage, been a writer-in-residence and is the author of More Than Just A Game: Football vs Apartheid (Harper Collins). With all these different writing hats he has a range of publicity shots, yet none of them was taken by a professional photographer. Today’s camera equipment means you don’t need a professional photographer to get a high quality image, but it’s important the photographer knows how to take a professional photograph and understands composition. ‘I have half a dozen or so different head and shoulders publicity shots, all taken by either my 16-year-old son, Eddie or 15-year-old daughter, Tilly, who are both heavily into photography and website design, so I trust them to take what is most effective. My writing life is split between writing TV and radio scripts, stage plays, non-fiction books and going into schools to foster creative self-confidence amongst children. Sometimes one photo feels more appropriate than another. If I’m send-

Summer 2015 ing out a CV that’s specifically to do with television scripts, it seems dumb to include a photo of me holding up my latest book.’ Remember, if you’re an expert in a particular subject matter you should look like an expert. Dress accordingly. Someone writing for the mountain biking magazines might wear their cycle helmet in their photo, whereas a travel writer might want a photo that shows them travelling the world (but that’s still no excuse for having the Eiffel Tower sticking out of the top of your head). Your photo should show you looking relaxed and knowledgeable in your field of expertise.

Brief Biography We’re often asked for a short biography to accompany these photos, and short could mean 100 words or fewer than 40. Just like our photos, these should be tailored to the audience. It’s worth spending some time preparing a selection in advance for different markets. ‘I have two stock biographies,’ says Suzanne, ‘depending upon whether it’s for a how-to book or an MB&S title. These should always reflect that the author is qualified, either by degree or experience, to write on a given subject.’ Here’s Suzanne’s biography showing her writing credentials: Suzanne Ruthven is the former editor of the popular monthly creative writing magazine, The New Writer, and now commissioning editor for Compass Books - the writer’s resource imprint for the international John Hunt Publishing company. She is the author of over 30 titles in the metaphysical, country and folklore genre. Marvin draws upon a collection of four or five different biographies, which he tweaks according to the market he’s approaching. ‘I visit a lot of schools,’ he says, ‘and if I’m looking to promote my work in that area I start with details of the writer-in-residences I’ve undertaken in schools, schools that I’ve visited and the range of workshops and talks that I offer. If I was looking to promote myself with TV/production companies, I would start with a more detailed overview of my TV credits, like so: Marvin has written and story-lined over 100 hours of broadcast TV drama, including penning over 70 scripts for Emmerdale, story-lining over 100 Coronation Street episodes and writing scripts for everyone from Tracey Beaker and The House of Anubis to Doctors and 24/7.’ Judith also tailors her biography, including its style as well as its content, and begins by asking a question: ‘Does it need to be formal, as for a publisher, or much lighter for a magazine/newspaper interview?’ To ensure she includes the relevant information she recommends maintaining a list of key achievements to draw upon. ‘A stock biography, or at least a list of bullet points, for your own use is a good idea. That way you are not likely to miss anything that might be relevant. Only pull out what is essential. What you include in it depends entire-

ly on the purpose it is being put to.’ Some magazines like an injection of humour in a biography, because, just like your photo, it helps to convey character. One of my biographies for walking magazines is: Simon has been exploring the Welsh Borders on foot for over 15 years, clocking up several thousand miles, a regular walking column in a local county magazine, and two walking books. His feet now ache considerably.

CV Credentials When approaching publishers and agents a fuller biography may be required in the form of a 'writing' curriculum vitae. This is not the place to list all the jobs you did to keep you in booze money at university, unless they’re important to your writing subject matter. Instead, list writing successes. Mention publications your articles and short stories have appeared in. Include any competitions you’ve won, or been placed in. Refer to notable competitions you’ve been shortlisted in. These still demonstrate skill and potential. If you’ve had books published, state the title, publisher and year of publication. If you’ve self-published a book and sold thousands of copies, include this information. Publishers and agents are interested to see the results of your writing business so far. ‘I maintain a full writing CV that lists all my books published to date, even those out of print,’ says Suzanne, although she no longer lists every article published, because there have been so many. Don’t consider a writing CV as something you create only when approaching publishers and agents. Create a document that evolves. Marvin makes a point of updating his CV regularly. ‘I review and, if needs be, change my CVs every couple of months to ensure they’re fresh and include details of any new work.’ Don’t think of all of this as a one-off business exercise. Remember the dating analogy: to make a good impression we need to look our best. These three steps are all about sprucing ourselves up and making ourselves look and feel good. Listing all of our writing achievements is a great way to boost our esteem and self-confidence. And, who knows? All this pampering could lead to a long and fulfilling business relationship. Simon Whaley – Biography Simon Whaley is the author of over a dozen writing books, including three for writers: The Positively Productive Writer, Photography for Writers, and The Complete Article Writer. He’s also written over 600 articles for publications as diverse as BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Outdoor Photography, and The Simple Things. His short stories have appeared in Take a Break, The People’s Friend, Ireland’s Own and Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special. 15

A child is born – The Priest has an unexpected houseguest – Hera makes a pledge

Helen Noble

“Arsenio, as your physician and your friend, I implore you to accept the offer of treatment,” pleaded Dr Theo Phaedrus. “Advanced prostate cancer can be treated with chemotherapy, surgery might prove successful for you. Once we know more about your condition we can decide what is best for you.” Arsenios Kokkinos shook his head. “I have lived a long and full life, Theo, and I still have things to do. I don’t have time to be sick.” “Surely anything to help prolong your life is worth trying?” insisted the doctor. “Well at least let your friends know, so that they can help you,” he reasoned. Arsenios dropped his chin and looked into the eyes of his confidante. “Theo, we have known each other for many years and I know you will respect my wishes when I tell you that my health is to remain a private matter.” The gentle doctor sighed, closing his eyes and nodding in acknowledgement. ***

Most uncharacteristically, Hera Pan had been seeking solitude. Her social world had recently suffered two major upheavals, and she knew that things would never be the same. Unable to discuss the terminal illness of her neighbour and suitor, Arsenios, Hera continued to bicker and banter with him, as was their way. Watching him in the farmhouse courtyard, juggling with the apples that she had given Dora for lunch, she wondered how his impending death might affect the young girl. Unable to speak her own thoughts, Dora could only repeat the words of others, her internal world a mystery to everyone. She had a close connection with the old sea captain, laughing now at his antics, and squinting her sparkling blue eyes against the early morning sunshine. Hera opened the kitchen window and scolded them both for forgetting her hat. Dora’s fair skin and golden hair was also a constant concern for Hera, who knew that the child would be spending most of the day in the face of the fierce, summer, Mediterrane16

an sun. She took a deep breath and stepped out into the courtyard. Today she must once more face the world, if only for the benefit of her friend, Despina Pachis. “Stop that fooling! We must leave now,” she chided, “I am needed in the bakery today. Fillopos Pachis has his hands full with much more than Ravani and Spanikopita.” When the pair continued to play, she snatched the apples from the hands of Arsenios, and replaced them in the pannier. “You are a stubborn fool, Arsenios Kokkinos,” she admonished him. Arsenios grinned and made a grab for her, waltzing around the courtyard, much to the delight of Dora, who whooped in excitement and pirouetted around the pair.

Summer 2015 “Hera, you have never looked more beautiful to me, than on this perfect day,” he said. Hera blushed and pushed him away. However her resistance had lessened. Arsenios could sense her softening. A secret smile crept out from his heart and spread itself across his reddened face. ***

Fillopos Pachis patted the sweat off his brow and smiled in relief as Hera stepped into the bakery. “Kalimera, Hera, my good friend,” he greeted her with gratitude. “The day’s baking is completed and the deliveries are ready for dispatch.” He indicated to the store of paper-bagged goods on the shelf behind his head. “Nickos will be here shortly to take them on his bicycle. Now I must go to help Odeta.” Hera quickened at the urgency of a baby’s cry. Fillopos disappeared into the back of the shop, and the cries quickly ceased. Hera was not surprised at how quickly the observance of practicalities resumed in the lives of people with newly-born babies. There was no other way, the survival of everyone depended on it. She looked at the counter before her. It was full of freshly-baked bread, sweet cakes and savoury pies. It was now her responsibility to ensure that all of these delicious wares were sold. She knew how to sweet talk each customer into just one more slice of cake, or an extra bag of cookies. She took an apron from a peg on the wall and wrapped it tightly around her ample form. She was ready for business; it was the least she could do for her absent friend, Despina. When Odeta appeared in the shop front, with the babbling baby in a buggy, Hera turned away in scorn and the young woman cast her gaze to the floor. Fillopos quickly ushered them out through the front door. Although she was eager to see the innocent

baby’s face, Hera knew she must not be seen to approve of the relationship. Later that afternoon, when the village was at siesta, Hera closed the shutters to the bakery and headed off to meet her Despina. She was to be found at the shrine built into the rock, at the harbour-side. A place rarely frequented by anyone other than the priest, and a few of the community elders, Hera now approached with reverence, gently knocking on the dark, wooden door of the whitewashed building. Hearing the sound of shuffling feet from behind it, she took a step back and looked at the inscription written above. It was a symbol of two fish swimming around an anchor. The door opened and Despina beckoned Hera to step inside. Lit by candles, heavy with the rich scent of incense, Hera became disoriented by the sudden transition from bright sunlight into the darkness of the interior. Despina guided her towards a small wooden bench, and sat alongside her. “How are you, my friend?” Hera asked when her eyes had adjusted to the dim flicker of light. “I am praying,” Despina replied, her face streaked with tears. “I am praying for guidance. I must find it in my heart to forgive them.” Hera sighed. She knew the Church’s teaching on such matters. However, she was also witnessing the great distress of her closet friend. “How are you passing the hours?” she asked kindly. “The priest is very kind,” replied Despina, smiling through her tears. “He is allowing me a room in return for the keeping of his house. He praises my cleaning and cooking. I am grateful for his compassion. Tell me, how is Fillopos? How is the bakery? Who is making the baklava? Have we lost many customers?” Hera reassured her that Fillopos was ensuring the bakery was well stocked, that he was working hard, and that no custom had been lost as a result of the scandal. She knew that was not strictly true, however, she would not add to the troubles of her beloved friend. “Will you return home?” asked Hera. Despina’s face crumpled and Hera saw the flicker of candlelight reflected in her fresh tears. She placed her arm around her friend’s shoulder. They would talk again another day. *** As she climbed the hill to the farm at dusk, Hera looked to the heavens for guidance. Despina’s plight 17

flooding her mind. Perhaps she should accept his proposal, if only to secure a safe future for Dora. As she approached the farm, Hera heard the bray of the donkey tethered in the courtyard, and saw a light on in the kitchen. She could make out the stout silhouette of Arsenios as he passed the window. Inside the kitchen, the day’s produce had been placed on the table for inspection and approval. Dora’s freshly-picked wildflowers took pride of place amidst the offerings. Arsenios presented Hera with a wedge of goat’s cheese, some eggs, freshly-picked figs, and a bottle of his home-made wine. Hera unwrapped a loaf of bread she had brought home from the bakery and retrieved the Loukaniko and some tomatoes from the refrigerator. “Let’s talk,” she said to Arsenios, pouring two large glasses full of sweet, red wine. ***

was on her mind, although not weighing as heavily as the health concerns of Arsenios. People survived broken hearts, she knew, all too well. But what would happen to her and Dora when her old friend Arsenios passed away? What would happen to his mill and the vines? What if it was never sold and was left to fall to rack and ruin? Such was the economy these days…Would a new owner allow Dora to roam freely on the land? Would she be welcome in her neighbour’s home? How would she, Hera, manage without his help? She could not afford to pay workers to harvest her crops, unless…her mind wandered comfortably into the wild fantasy of inheriting his home and land after his death. Then she would be able to rent out the mill, and afford extra hands to work the land, whilst keeping her other jobs in the village. She could once more raise sheep in the fields and find another keeper for the bees. Perhaps Dora would find another friend amongst the handlers she could employ to tend to the livestock? If she, Hera, was to marry Arsenios, surely such an inheritance would become a reality? He had no other kin. Hera stopped to take a breath, her heart was racing with the effort of the climb and the excitement of the possibilities


Dr Phaedrus raised his glass and proposed a toast: “Arsenio and Hera, may your family be well, your table always full, and your happiness all consuming.” Despina echoed his wishes. Dora chanted the word ‘happiness’ over and over again. The priest helped himself to more wine. The engagement party gathering feasted on a mezze of local meats, cheeses and fresh vegetables. Arsenios produced two, plain gold, wedding bands and exchanged them with his wife-to-be, each placing the band of the other on their left hand, as witnessed by their close circle of friends. His infamous jokes and teasing served to bolster the celebratory spirit, whilst those present, with the exception of young Dora, managed to suspend their innermost fears and misgivings, for the occasion. The priest cleared his throat. It was time for him to speak. “Although it is customary for the future bride and groom to visit with me on three occasions, to discuss their marital responsibilities and wedding arrangements. I believe we can deal with the issues here, today, if the bride-and-groom-to-be so desire,” he offered. “We are hoping to marry on the seventh of September,” Arsenios announced. The priest nodded. “That date is acceptable to the Church, as it is after the commemoration of the beheading of John the Baptist on the twenty-ninth of August, and before the celebration for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September fourteenth. I shall make note of it. Next year, I am glad to say, is not a Leap year in the calendar,” he added. “No, not next year,” Hera interjected. “We intend to marry this year.” “This year, next month? In ten days time?” he questioned, wide-eyed in disbelief.

Summer 2015 “Yes,” Hera firmly replied.” The shocked priest stumbled over the words of his response: “So much to do, so little time, will you rethink the matter?” Arsenios spoke up: “Now is the time, Father, we have nothing to wait for. I’m sure you can see the wisdom in our minds and know the love in our hearts, and of course we are not getting any younger.” He winked. Dr Phaedrus caught the Priest’s eye. The priest bit his lip and nodded in muted acceptance. On the Wednesday prior to the marriage ceremony, Arsenios took it upon himself to demonstrate some of the ancient wedding traditions to Dora. In his stone mill, he gathered together the sacks of grain to be used for the baking of the bread for the wedding feast, and a large sieve. He introduced her to the practice of leavening. “It is customary for a young person, like yourself, to throw lucky coins into the mix and speak of your good wishes for the bride and groom at the same time,” he explained. “May the couple be blessed with a bounteous wealth,” he demonstrated, tossing a coin into the flour. “Bounteous wealth,” repeated Dora. Arsenios smiled and continued. “May the happy couple live long lives,” he said, handing a coin to Dora, who shrieked in pleasure as it disappeared into the mound of flour. “And may they be blessed with beautiful children,” he completed the trio of good wishes. Dora repeated his words as she threw the last coin. He kissed the top of her golden head. He had already been blessed with a long life, and honoured with the responsibility for a unique child. Arsenio believed he was the happiest man in the world. Although tradition dictated the bride and groom participate in the ‘filling of the sacks’ on the Friday before

the wedding, Hera had no family members to add items into the sack and she wasn’t about to pack up all her worldly goods, just to unpack once more in her own home, at a later date. She opted instead to spend some time with Despina, who had taken it upon herself to be responsible for the arrangement of the Church flowers and the candles for the ceremony. As Dora practiced walking to the altar, whilst holding a lit candle, Despina cautioned her friend. “We must not forget the evil eye,” she whispered. “Stuff and nonsense,” retorted Hera. “But of course I will wear a pin.” Meanwhile, Arsenios had sailed to the mainland in search of the bridal shoes. “I told him not to bother,” Hera explained to her friend, as they discussed the seating arrangements for the wedding feast. “But he was insistent. I will leave you here with Dora now, as I have promised to meet him at the harbour side.” Hera waited patiently whilst the ferry disembarked. There was no sign of Arsenios. She boarded the boat, before it could make its about-turn for the last journey of the day, to ask the captain what had become of her betrothed. Had he any news? Arsenios would not now be able to return to the island until the next day. The captain struggled to look Hera in the eye. As fellow sailors, he and Arsenios were well acquainted. He was aware of the purpose of the man’s journey. He also knew that the man would not be home for the wedding in two day’s time. His body would have to be transported from the hospital into which he had been admitted, when he collapsed on his way back to the ferry port. The hospital had attributed his death to multiple organ failure. They were making the necessary arrangements for the body to be transported back to the island, for the funeral. With a heavy heart the captain now handed Hera a box. Inside was a beautiful pair of ivory satin shoes, decorated with a silken bow, a diamond heart embedded on the heel of each shoe. In an instant, Hera knew in her heart that these shoes were never to be worn. True to tradition, Arsenios had filled the exquisite items with Euros, and he had also written a card. It read: “For my greatest love, Hera, who will forever live in my heart.” fiction/an-interview-with-soul-rocks-author-helennoble/ B007KJJCTE


Jennifer Copley

Jennifer Copley lives in Barrow-in-Furness in her grandmother’s house, a large draughty Victorian pile that has informed much of her poetry. She is the author of three full collections of poetry and four pamphlets including Ice (Smith/ Doorstop), Unsafe Monuments (Arrowhead), Beans in Snow (Smokestack), Living Daylights (Happenstance) and Mr Trickfeather (Like This Press). Her work has appeared in The Rialto, The North, PN Review, the Independent on Sunday, the Forward Prize Anthology and GCSE Poetry Unseen revision papers. Her latest collection, Sisters (Smokestack), was published last year. It burst into life after seeing a Victorian post -mortem photograph of two sisters.


Summer 2015

I’ll admit it. I’m a born again writer. When I was younger, only about (*ahem*) years ago, I wrote ALL the time: bad poetry, melodramatic short stories, and the odd youth theater script. As long as I had pen and paper, or a good old-fashioned Smith Corona (*another dated reference*), I’d be as happy as a lizard on a rock. But then real life got in the way. Like all of us, I had to grow up, get a job, get a life, oh, and somewhere in there, a family came along, and a whole bunch of fluffy pets. I never meant to stop writing. It happened accidentally.

One day I found myself a middleaged, middle-class mother of two (now, three – we’ve been busy!) And of course the mid-life crisis hit big time. I thought about where I was and what I really wanted to do with my life, finally realizing I’d let writing get away from me. So I started thinking about writing a novel, the one thing I’d never tried before, not seriously anyway. I wanted to enroll in an online writing class for the flexibility it offered. Naturally, the literary fiction course I wanted to take was already fully enrolled. However, the same institution was offering a fiction writing class for younger readers. I’d been reading The Hunger Games and Twilight (yes, I’ll admit that I developed a penchant for sparkly vam-

pires for a while there). I saw that there was a whole new young readership out there open to all sorts of new ideas in their books. I took the class, and then another, and then another, finally culminating in finishing the entire online fiction writing certificate programs at both UCLA and Stanford. Even though I continued to work full time, those programs gave me the opportunity to build up a supportive and encouraging network of other readers and writers. An eternal student, I’m now in my final year of the M.F.A. program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts, another amazingly supportive and wonderful community of readers and writers.

Inside the Palisade, forthcoming in August with Lodestone Books, is my first full-length novel, although I’ve also written a bunch of short stories in recent years. I enjoy writing stories that revolve around strong female characters, and this book is no exception. As a woman whose day job happens to be in a male-dominated profession, I often find myself saying (or hear my colleagues saying) things like: “Well, if a woman was in charge of this project …” Inside the Palisade is an exploration of what would happen if women were, in fact, in charge of a futuristic dystopian society, having banished men to the wastelands outside a massive stone wall. The society reproduces via an artificial insemination technique known simply as the Procedure, and women raise their children in the Nest. While the story is a fast-paced action adventure story for younger readers with a little romance thrown in, it’s also pretty tongue-in-cheek about gender dynamics. 21

Before any male readers start sending hate male about me being a man-hating feminist, I want to assure everyone it’s all in good fun. Indeed, some of the women in the story do things as terrible as, or more terrible than, the things they accuse men of having done. Having women in charge doesn’t necessarily make society better in my story. It only makes society different.

Speaking of revisions, that’s actually one of my favorite parts of writing, although I know many authors hate it. I have what I call a “slash and burn” approach. Unlike many writers, I don’t carefully save discarded scenes in old files, at least not anywhere I’m likely to ever find them again. I’m not precious about my words and have no fears about killing my darlings.

I would describe the story as a cross between The Maze Runner and The Gate to Women’s Country. It’s dystopian, there are mysteries about how the city ended up the way it did, and big mysteries as to what’s outside the palisade. There’s an unusual romantic triangle and a few surprises about the lead characters’ parents.

I often write the same scene from multiple different characters’ perspectives to get a sense of the fullness of the action. However, if I’ve decided to stick to one point of view character (as I did in Palisade with Omega), then the final draft is always told in that character’s voice. I considered alternating points of view for this book, but found I could get the main action across even if I stayed completely in Omega’s head throughout the book. I also chose the first person present tense to maintain a sense of immediacy and action.

The book is intended for upper middle grade to young adult readers. It’s a quick and easy read and great for a summer day by the pool or the beach. Because this magazine is for both readers and writers, I should say something specific about my writing process such as it is. I’ve hemmed and hawed and left this until the end of the article because I’m not sure I really have a process rather than a hit and miss, throw-everything-on-the-pageand-see-what-sticks approach. I’m definitely a “pantser” rather than a “plotter.” For those unfamiliar with the lingo, it means I write by the seat of my pants, let the characters do what they want to do, and try to stay out of their way. For me, tightening up the plot comes later in revisions.

I’m excited and apprehensive about letting my baby book out into the wider world and into readers’ hands. I hope folks enjoy reading it and I would love to hear feedback or to chat about writing generally. I can be contacted through my blog at: and would love to hear from you.

Write on! K. C. Maguire

A mother of three and online book reviewer, K.C. Maguire has studied fiction writing at Stanford and UCLA, and will shortly commence her Masters at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is widely published in the flash-fiction area, and has received strong reviews for her three e-novellas: Dear John, Destiny, and Ivory Tower.

Incorrect: We poured over the map. (To flow: “Pour yourself a drink”) Correct: We pored over the map. (Absorbed in the study of…)


Summer 2015

Sarah-Beth Watkins is basking in the success of her latest title, a biography of Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of Henry VIII, which is attracting some very positive reviews in the wake of the recent spate of televised Tudor popularity. How much of her success does she attribute to the recent adaptation of Wolf Hall and was her book timed to coincide with the release of this historical drama? Or was it a matter of being in the right place at the right time? Wolf Hall has great costumes and setting wise it’s fabulous but Cromwell is a dry character and I found the first couple of episodes quite slow going. It has however created a renewed interest in the Tudors so it’s lucky that my book hit the shelves at the same time as it was televised. Pure luck really – it wasn’t timed as such. Lady K, however, isn’t Sarah-Beth’s first excursion into historical non-fiction since Ireland's Suffragettes was published last year, explaining how the struggle of the suffragettes in Ireland was different to that of the UK, in that many of the Irish suffragettes were also involved in the struggle for national independence. These two subjects appear to be worlds apart but is the common link an admiration for strong, positive women who often change the face of history? I’m interested in various different periods in history and I love reading about women whose lives we know little about. In the course of researching my degree, where one module was the role of women in politics, I realised I didn’t know anything about the Irish suffragettes, British yes but not Irish. I was also working with women’s groups at the time and we often discussed politics and women’s current lack of participation. A trip up to the National Archives in Dublin where primary sources can be found set me off on the suffragette trail. And Lady Katherine was another woman whose life had been affected by the politics of the time. She had a passing mention in books about her mother, Mary Boleyn, but I wanted to find out her life story and get it down in one volume. All these women had a part to play in history and yet they have been neglected. The Irish suffragettes won the right to vote before the British suffragettes did. Lady Katherine, as Henry VIII’s daughter carried on his line to this present day. Strong, positive women definitely and their stories deserve to be written about.

An experienced freelance writer who has written for various publications over the past 20 years, she began her career writing for parenting magazines and has since gone on to write on many different subjects. Her experience ranges from feature articles, human interest and historical articles as well as short stories and book reviews. She has written on a variety of topics including self help, women’s development, parenting, literature and how to information. She has written over 300 articles for the web on a variety of subjects. It’s obvious that she’s served a long apprenticeship to reach this level of her career but which element of it has given her the greatest personal satisfaction? That’s a tricky one because I think when you are first starting out every success gives you satisfaction and also spurs you on to write more. I was delighted to be taken on as a regular contributor to a magazine and then with several websites but I always wanted to write books. Had many half started ones in a drawer. That was always my goal – to be an author. So having my first book published by Compass Books was a big deal. To finally have a print book with my name on the cover! Now with the history books, that’s a level I’d only dreamed of reaching. My book Ireland’s Suffragettes was a personal interest and I really wanted those women’s stories to be told, although I knew the market for the book would probably be fairly small. It’s done well though and one reader contacted me from Spain to thank me for writing about her great grandmother and filling in some gaps in her life. I was so delighted by that! Lady Katherine has reached a much wider audience and given me more confidence to write historical non-fiction. You need to be committed to write this type of book. You are going to live and breathe the times for months, even years, on end. Its success has brought me to a great point in my writing career. And given me ideas for many more books!

Sarah-Beth is also the author of Telling Life's Tales: A Guide to Life Writing for Print and Publication, The Writer's Internet: A Creative Guide to the World Wide Web; The Life-Style Writer: How to Write for the Home and Family Market and Life-Coaching for Writers: Realising Your Creative Potential . In 2013 she joined the JHP team as publisher of Chronos Books, the new history non-fiction imprint that aims to bring history to a new generation of readers that sheds new light on old information and uses new sources and top notch research to explore historical


people, places and events. This was obviously a new venture for you but what advice would you give to writers exploring the non-fiction history market? See what is out there first. When you are thinking of writing historical non-fiction, you need to know what has been written before. Pick your time period and research it, research it and then research it again. I have piles of books and papers on the Tudor period and the newer they are, the fresher the research so you need to read a lot, from primary sources to current thinking. Biography-wise, some people have been well written about. Take Henry VIII for example or Anne Boleyn so you need to look for other individuals that will interest readers. People whose stories have been glossed over. If you’re writing about history, you need to know that the sources are there. I have an idea for a book about another fascinating lady but I can’t pinpoint many sources of information on her. Before you even start chapter planning, you need to know that you will have enough information to fill your book. Writing historical non-fiction takes a high amount of pre-planning before you even start but if you are committed to your writing and enjoy delving into a time in history every day, then go for it! She’s also had an excursion into writing fiction for young adults, which is a long way from history and self-help books, so what’s the lure of YA fiction? I’ve always loved fantasy fiction – it’s what I read in the evenings to unwind. I do so much research reading in the day that I need something completely different to relax with. Can’t go to sleep without a book! There was a time in my life when I was working with young people and having my own kids, those stories grew from that. YA fiction today can cover so many things, so many issues that the kids of today have to deal with, and fantasy can help them to escape. So I like to combine the both and have a notebook for those ideas. I haven’t written anything lately – history took over – but I may in the future! Writers cannot, however, live by royalties alone and Bookworms Author Services is her latest venture. Can she tell us a little bit about it and any other ‘work in progress’. I started Bookworms Author Services to help other writers get their work in print. I teach writing courses but also work on individual manuscripts to help improve them and make them ready to send to a publisher. One of my clients has just received a contract for her history book that we worked on togeth24

er and that’s what I call a success! I’m at such a good place in my own writing career that - I know this might sound clichéd - but I wanted to give something back, help others to reach their writing goals. I’m currently working on two projects of my own. One is another Tudor biography and one is a screenplay. I do like to dabble with screenwriting and it’s another area where history can be told in such a way that it reaches a wider audience. Finally, would she give us an insight into her daily writing routine and working methods, which is always a subject of interest to other writers? I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home but sometimes the work takes over rather than the writing! I have to balance teaching and copyediting with my own projects so I have work days and writing days. A typical writing day starts with household chores – pure procrastination – followed by reading what I have written previously and reassessing where I am up to. I always plan my books well before I start writing so that I have chapter breakdowns that detail where I should be at any one point. The problem with history though is that you find out an odd snippet of information and then off you go on a tangent for the rest of the day! The chapter plan brings me back to base though. I also use a detailed timeline that has life events and world events on it. I break my day by walking the dogs and it’s priceless. Yes, we all get our exercise but it also clears my head, helps me think out a tricky section and gives me space to think of what else I should be including. I tend to do my best writing in the afternoon and the evenings are then taken up with research and reading, ready for the next day!

Summer 2015

by Barbara Tako Everyone writes to greater or lesser degrees in their normal daily life and their job. Maybe that is why it is hard to be successful in the writing business. It has been said that for a book to be successful, it must either be the first in its topic or the best. I am sure that is true to some extent, but there are other ways to write and to be paid for writing, and books that aren’t at those extremes can sometimes generate a reasonable income or other writing opportunities too. If you love to write, write daily. Write even if it is just a journal entry or a paragraph in a journal entry. I can’t count the number of times a rant or articulation in my journal has later turned into an article or a book chapter. Write an article idea and let it expand in your subconscious and add to it later. Keep adding and polishing until it turns into a reasonable blog or article. Write letters. Write emails. Simply, write.

Dictate too. Sometimes I want to talk rather than to write. An idea or an eloquent sentence pops into my mind. A few minutes or hours later, another thought needs to be added. Technology allows me to dictate and then I can later pull the pieces together into a coherent article. I have done this and it works! My dad who was an editorial page editor for a newspaper for many years also said this: Read, read, read. Reading leads to internal processing. Notice how the author forms sentences. Notice how they do description or dialogue. Notice how their article or book is structured. Reading teaches you. This reading, as an active and as a passive internal processing, leads to writing. So, as my father’s daughter, I say write, write, write. Get help. Yes, this means the “M” word— marketing. To get your writing out there, it is worth every penny to hire a publicist. I work with Ascot Media. They send out numerous press releases about my books and refer responses to me to follow up. Those press releases have generated radio

interviews, television interviews, and articles and interviews in newspapers and magazines. You may have written the best book in the world, but if no one knows about it, they won’t be able to read it. Help yourself. Craft a great email inquiry that includes your press release at the bottom. Send it out to organizations and individuals in your topic area. This has generated numerous speaking engagements and article requests for me. Send and resend to those places. Sometimes it takes more than one try to get a response. Marketing may be the part of the writing job that you don’t care for but it is worth your time and attention. Do it.

Learn technology. Avoiding it isn’t an option. I stumbled around figuring out how to “tweet” on Twitter. I worked hard to set up pages for my books on Facebook. I joined and now support other Facebook pages in my topic areas. If you have time to read and time to write, take the time to learn technology. It is well worth the effort and it becomes increasingly important every day. It is also possible to be paid to write but it might not appear in the way you had visualized it. I wanted and still want my latest book to be a success. That said, I had posted a blog entry on an online website in my topic area and the response was a question from the blog editor as to whether I would like a paid blog position with them. At first I didn’t respond. I continued to work through the day’s emails because it didn’t really dawn on me what she was telling me! Then a god-sent light bulb in my head went off (it basically said “Hey, silly, head’s up!” and I responded to the blog editor’s offer. I write regularly now for community along with other cancer experts and cancer survivors. If this type of writing interests and fits for you, please let me know and I will get in touch with them on your behalf. This is a way I get paid for my craft and it helps to promote my JHP books. You can do this too. Pick one or two places to blog so you can keep up with it, and get started!


Accept help and help yourself. Edit your writing. Write. Walk away and let it age. Edit. Rinse and repeat. Accept other people’s editing ideas. I have heard many writers get upset when their copy is edited. I welcome editing! If someone is willing to comb through my work and get the tangles out, I am happy and grateful. Yes, sometimes the meaning can get inadvertently changed, but overall, editing has saved and polished me more than it has hurt me. Accept help graciously. Finally, try writing in a genre you don’t normally use. It may open up a new window for you or help you expand and improve the way you do write in your genre of choice. I wrote a poem at the end of my cancer coping book and have gotten lots of feedback from readers who enjoyed it:

Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools – We'll get you through this Hearing the words “You have cancer” can be devastating—some cancer patients even say that the emotional pain and loss of certainty from hearing this are worse than the pains from the cancer, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and other treatments. This is the intimate journey of a melanoma and breast cancer survivor who honestly, and sometimes even humorously, shares her own story and offers supportive emotional tools to help people diagnosed with cancer, and their loved ones and caregivers, work through the emotional pain and upheaval of a cancer diagnosis. You will be supported in knowing what it feels like to hear you have cancer and be given a variety of helpful ideas to start feeling better whether you are newly diagnosed, in treatment, or months or years after treatment. If you are a caregiver, friend, or family member who wants to help, you will get a better understanding of the cancer experience as well as tools to help the person you care about. For any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, information is vital. But more important, it needs to be good information. Barb's book more than qualifies! ~ Julie Edstrom, breast cancer survivor, supportgroup facilitator and spiritual director

Never give up. Never stop expressing yourself through your craft. You are a unique and empowered individual with something important to share with those around you. As George Eliot says, “What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?” So get out there and write, write, write! Barbara Tako is a br ea s t ca n cer su r vivor since 2010 and a melanoma survivor since 2014. She speaks in the U.S. and writes at community and Since 1998, Barbara Tako has been a professional seminar leader, speaker, and published writer on clutter clearing and organizing, appearing on television, radio, and other media venues across the country. Her books are available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Reach Barbara at or 26

Summer 2015

Let Your Unconscious Help You Overcome Your Writer's Block Clarke W. Owens The term "writer's block" seems a bit of a cliché to me. Do other professions have "blocks"? Is there such a thing as "teacher's block"? "Lawyer's block"? "Doctor's block"? Why do aspiring writers allow themselves the luxury of claiming to be "blocked" when they can't think of a way to keep writing? (And isn't it mostly aspiring writers who complain of it?) One thinks of the term as applying mainly to longer forms, like the novel. One is writing along, and suddenly in chapter thirteen, or chapter fifty-five, zam! The block comes down. You're stuck. You don't know where to go with it. Suppose it was only a little old poem you were writing. You wrote about half the poem, and you couldn't think of a way to resolve it – tie up the metaphor, give it some punch, make it work. Would you say you were "blocked"? Or would you say, "Maybe it's not a poem"? Would you consider shelving it altogether? I believe a novel – although entirely different from a poem in most respects – is no different from a poem insofar as it's either going to work or it isn't. And it's entirely possible to begin a long project like a novel, and then to realize midway through that it isn't going to work. It was improperly conceived. There's not enough research or deep knowledge in it. The characters aren't cooperating. The whole thing is turning to wood. So my first feeling about "writer's block" is that it might be a sign that the project is not a good one. You need (or at least I need) to know when to give up. That doesn't mean you give up every time you hit a snag. It means you keep your critical and self-critical senses in operation, and you use them as necessary to get a better result. Write only poems that are poems, only novels that are novels. Be like a sculptor, and cut away everything that isn't the art you're seeking. The critical mind is the opposite brain from the creative one. The creative one is the unconscious. Have you noticed how free language is in a dream, or when you're waking from sleep? What about those dream images? Wild, aren't they? Yet if you analyze them, they nearly always do what Freud said they do: they multi-task on an anxiety or a wish. The unconscious mind layers images over the anxiety with as much meaning as possible. Multiple images represent the same area of concern, while each image contains multiple points of possible reference. That's exactly what you want a poetic image to do. That's a good thing for story lines to do. The critical mind kills this process. You can't think a poem into existence. You have to be open to experience, and open to language. With a novel, you have to be open for a long time, and the subject has to marinate in its lay-

ers of contemplation and study until it's ready to emerge as plot, character, voice, narrative line. In the process of spinning out the yarn, there will be times when the story seems tied up in a knot, and unwilling to go further. What do you do? I suggest you sleep on it. Don't try to figure it out. Just try to understand the nature of the snafu. Character X is poised to commit Act Y, but Character X has been developed in such a way that she would never do that. What has happened? How can we fix this? Should we just plunge on, and have Character X commit Act Y, when it's totally out of character? No. Your critical sense is trying to tell you something. It's saying, "Don't go there. It won't work." But your critical sense does not tell you where to go. The critical sense does not perform that function. The Unconscious does. Think about the nature of the problem. Then, stop analyzing it. Go to sleep. Your unconscious mind will work on it, just like it works on all your daily problems, anxieties, fears, and conflicts. Nine times out of ten, in the morning, you will wake up with a completely new idea about how to resolve the issue. "Wow!" you'll say. "I didn't even think of that." No, you didn't think of that when you were worrying about Character X and Act Y, because that was your critical faculty doing the thinking. But at night, when your Unconscious was percolating, running wild programs through your problems to come up with solutions, creation took place. You realize now what you had no clue about last night when you went to bed, namely, It's not necessary for Character X to engage in Act Y. Character X can engage in Act Z – and that's exactly what she would do. …Or whatever the solution is. The point is, if you leave it alone, the solution will come to you in your sleep. This has happened to me more times than I can count. When it does, I'm always amazed at how creative the unconscious mind is, and how effortlessly it solves seemingly insoluble problems. I've come to realize that a creative problem is only seemingly insoluble because the perception of such problems occurs to the critical part of the brain, which is properly trained to be aware of such things. It's not part of the critical brain's sphere of influence to know how to fix the problem – only to be aware of it, and to define it consciously. Once you realize this, there really is no writer's block. If you are really blocked and your dreaming mind can't resolve the issue, it means the project is bad and should be abandoned for another one. But don't give up until both halves of your brain have looked at the issue! Clarke W. Owens is the author of a novel, "600 PPM," and a book of literary criticism, "Son of Yahweh." His poems frequently appear in literary journals. He lives in rural Ohio. Visit his web site at .


Autumn Barlow Interviews Helen Noble What is your book about in thirty words? Scorpio Moons is an insight into the secret worlds of passionate, driven women who summon the physical and spiritual and strength to face their demons and forge their own destinies.

The only constant in life is change. Listen to your feelings – if it feels wrong, it probably is, for you, at least. Be true to yourself as others will inevitable let you down (even if not intentionally) What inspired you to write it? Learn from your fear and challenge your anxieties. I wanted to explore and illustrate, in an entertaining way, the Trust that things will always work out, operation of the psychological concept of resilience in the lives A negative outlook is a sure-fire way to fail. and experiences of women; to shed some light on our inner Be kind. strength and celebrate our vitality. Be warm. Be loving. What inspires you in your daily life? Be loved. Compassion, beauty, trust and fresh sea air! What’s your spin on God? Is he real? Is he a woman? Is God a Where would you most love to travel and why? big giant fluffball of a kitten in the sky? Your call… So many places! In Europe I feel equally at home in the moun- I think God is consciousness, a state of mind and heart and tains of Ireland and the islands of Greece and would love to therefore a state of human being. travel further afield in North America. However in Africa I swear I could feel the heartbeat of the world. Where do you call home? What’s so great about it? Home is currently by the sea in Wales…I love its solitude, its What or who is the greatest love of your life and why? rugged beauty and the fresh, expansive atmosphere. The ‘what’ must be the act of writing. I am happiest when I am formulating, researching and writing the ideas and notions Nature or Nurture? that morph into books, yet which seem to come out of no- Nature is nurturing! where, often starting out as a single image or a random con- But seriously, I think elements of both are evident throughout cept. life. We all have our default settings, courtesy of our genes and The ‘who’ is an array of the people in my life at the present, circumstances of birth. However we also have ever-connecting and some from the past. There is however still plenty of room brains and choices. I think that nurturing ourselves and others for those of the future. is one of our greatest human gifts and the platform on which to build happy, successful and satisfying lives. When did your interest in all things spiritual and soulful begin? Favourite ever soulful book? As a child I was aware of otherworldly ‘things’ but it crystal- There are so many….I love books that make me think, that lised during my rehabilitation work with offenders. I became challenge my existing perceptions. Yet I also love books that aware of the spaces between people and of ‘stuff’ happening, illustrate the beauty, strength and compassion of humanity. the activation of energy of those spaces. In a cathartic sense I The late, great Doris Lessing’s book of short stories titled wrote about my experiences. This was my way of making ‘Winter in July’ tuned my adolescent mind into higher planes. sense of them, finally publishing a fictional account in the form of my debut novel Tears of a Phoenix, published by Soul Rocks What has changed in your life over the last ten years? in 2012. My home, my family, my occupation, my body, my mind! Change is the only constant in my life, and I’m looking forWhen things got dark in your life (as they tend to do in all our wards to finding out what changes the next ten years will lives) how did you cope? bring… I wrote about it. To close friends and confidantes, in journals, in blogs, in poetry; I incorporated my experiences and under- What else do you do – besides writing? standing into novels and short stories. I mother, take photographs, read books, and walk dogs. I love also to encourage other writers to find their voice and love What has been the most spiritual / soulful moment of your their craft. life thus far? The unique moment that someone very close to me survived, Are you working on another book? against the odds. It made me appreciate the endurance of the Yes I am currently working on another three novels, including human spirit as well as the strength of the body. a sequel to forthcoming Soul Rocks novel The 49th Day. What advice would you give to readers of the next generation on finding their soul in this often corporate / consumer driven world? Be discerning. Feel for the truth. Images are illusory and transient.


Website links @welshmermaid @Tearsofaphoeni1

Summer 2015 Scorpio Moons

highlighting the drama of their deeds. While speaking of the nature of these powerful individuals, it also reveals their hidden connections and unveils the transformational flow of their collective force.

Tears of a Phoenix

Dramatic. Intense. Deep. Containing astrology, myth, dreams, omens, therapies, and more to draw you into a magical world. Well-written. I recommend it. ~ Anita Burns, The Messenger

The 49th Day

Scorpio Moons is a collection of dark, secretive and passionate tales of the deeds of driven women in their search for self-empowerment. In an astrological sense, the moon embodies the interior of the soul; the mother of existence, the yin energy of the universe. Scorpio energy is deep, intensely loving, transformative and potentially destructive. It is believed that women with the moon in Scorpio, whilst fearlessly passionate and highly creative, may also become consumed with jealousy and hell-bent on revenge. With their intuitive ability to see into your soul, they can make for the most fiercely loyal of friends and the most deadly of sworn enemies. Committed to the constant of change, equally powerful in the creative and destructive elements, they are the Goddesses of Transformation. The secret to their strengths lies in their invisible thread of endurance; their effortless embodiment of resilience will ensure they will always be on the cutting edge of life. Scorpio Moons offers a forbidden glimpse into the interior of the lives of those among us. It casts a silvery light into the darkest corners, illuminating their secret desires, revealing their indulgences and

A contemporary romance with undertones of medieval history and a spiritual twist, woven with ancient Welsh mythology and timeless Irish humour. 'The 49th Day' is the first in a trilogy of novels weaving together the past, present and future lives of Katherine Walsh and the powerful men who seek to control her. Based around the Buddhist notion of reincarnation, the story unfolds to reveal the events of the first seven weeks of her unexpected pregnancy. Coincidences in her past and present lives become clear as she grapples with the current stranglehold on her life and contemplates her future as the custodian of the soul of her unborn child.

A life sentence signifies the end of one road for Jed, a convicted violent criminal, yet the start of a whole new existence. Desperate to escape the shackles of his past, he opens his psyche to the people he meets in the prison system and delves into his psychological and spiritual heritage. To be released into the outside world, Jed embarks on a journey of selfexploration, with the help of a prison psychologist, prison officers and fellow inmates. From the confines of his cell he relives the past events which led to his current status as a prisoner, and travels into the history and culture of his Ghanian homeland, meeting with his spiritual ancestors to seek the truths he believes will set him free. As a new novelist, Helen's writing is replete with insights and promises a wealth of them still untapped. She fearlessly explores the dark underbelly of the human condition, providing both a deeper understanding and uplifting hope for humanity. ~ Stephen Russell, Author, The Barefoot Doctor

Helen Noble is a director in a progressive legal practice. She is also a psychology graduate with experience of working with people in a variety of challenging circumstances. Privileged to have witnessed the resilience of the human spirit, Helen believes that it is only by being true to our nature and honouring our integrity that we can follow our dreams. Acknowledging our roots allows us to spread our branches in new directions. She lives in Pembrokeshire, UK.


Young Adult Books special offer on eBooks only 99p/99c on Amazon (may be subject to tax) for the whole of September! Coming soon!

Inside the Palisade

Escape From the Past

What if the sexes were divided by a massive stone wall, and someone was on the wrong side?

When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he's sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn't realize that 1) He's been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game's rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever. Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets' nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.

Omega has grown up surrounded by women – literally. Inside the palisade, women fall in love, marry and raise daughters, relying on an artificial insemination process known as the Procedure. But something goes horribly wrong. One day, Omega comes face to face with a mythical monster – a man – within the society’s walls. Men had been eradicated long ago to protect women from the threat of violence. But this boy is not what Omega has been led to believe. And he needs her help. She soon finds herself embroiled in a manhunt headed by a vigilante Protector, Commander Theta. When she falls into Theta’s clutches, Omega realizes that there’s more to the banishment of men, and to her own past, than she’s ever known. Ultimately, she is forced to make a choice between betraying the lost boy and betraying her society, a decision complicated by the realization that she has more in common with him than she cares to admit, and the fact that she is developing feelings for him. A tense thriller about a future where the choices humanity is making now have ravaged the world as we know it. The Palisade and the rigid society that survives within are an adaptation to the new environmental circumstances, but its people are running out of time. One girl challenges her society to either change...or die out! ~ Alyx Dellamonica, author of the Indigo Springs series and the Child of a Hidden Sea trilogy A mother of three and online book reviewer, K.C. Maguire has studied fiction writing at Stanford and UCLA, and will shortly commence her Masters at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is widely published in the flash-fiction area, and has received strong reviews for her three e-novellas: /Dear John/, /Destiny/, and /Ivory Tower/. You can find her on the web at:


Fast-paced, compelling YA debut. ~ Giselle Green, #1 bestselling author of A Sister’s Gift

A wonderfully crafted romp to the time of lords, ladies, and knights. Cool gaming experience is an understatement as young Max finds himself in the 1400s as he's beta testing a new video game. History is made, intrigue abounds, and the bonds of friendship are forged as a modern-day boy bravely navigates the past. Are you Max enough to play the game? ~ Lee Ann Ward, author and former Senior Editor of Champagne Books Annette Oppenlander writes historical fiction for young adults. When she isn’t in front of her computer, she loves indulging her mutt, Mocha, and traveling around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories.

Summer 2015

Compass Points - Edit is a Four-Letter Word A one-stop refresher course in editing fiction, suitable for both new writers and more experienced ones. When to edit, how to edit, why to edit – and when not to edit. The different stages of editing. Checklists, examples, and advice from other writers, editors, competition judges and a literary agent. Don’t know how to edit your work? Not sure when it’s ready to send out? Glynis Scrivens’ book answers all your questions. Follow the excellent advice given by Glynis and the experienced contributors she has included and reap the rewards. If you are serious about sending out your best possible work you cannot be without Edit is a Four Letter Word. Lynne Hackles A writer’s editing process is as personal as their writing style, but it’s always useful to know how others do it. As the book says, there is no obvious cut-off point. Knowing when to stop is just as important as knowing what to edit. Glynis has written a book that shares the tips and methods other writers use, enabling you to select, refine, hone and perfect your own editing technique. There’s no right or wrong way to edit: just your way. This book will help you discover your way of editing. Simon Whaley

Glynis Scrivens is an Australian writer. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and newspapers in Australia, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, the US and Scandinavia. She is a regular contributor to UK magazine Writers' Forum, and has had articles published in Pets, Steam Railway, Ireland's Own, and Writing Magazine. Her work has appeared in seven anthologies, both fiction and non-fiction.

Clutter Clearing Choices Clutter Clearing Choices is humorous, authentic, and entertaining. It is an extremely informative book on clutter clearing, home organizing, and simple living. If someone thinks they have already read everything out there about clutter, this book will show them they haven't. If this is the first clutter clearing book someone picks up, they will be pleasantly surprised by the flexibility and quantity of helpful ideas and resources here. Readers are invited to pick and choose what works for them. There is no single right way to get rid of clutter! This book is filled with practical ideas to reduce clutter and get organized to free up time and energy for personal priorities, whatever they are! Isn't that much more fun than hunting for car keys or misplaced paperwork? Funny, thorough, and not the least bit intimidating, this book is a godsend for the organizationally challenged. ~ Victoria Moran, author of Creating a Charmed Life When I began my organizing business 30 years ago, it was based on four simple words: Clutter is Postponed Decisions. Few of us (even professional organizing consultants!) ever reach the point of being satisfied with their ability to get rid of clutter as it just seems to keep pouring in. Barbara Tako has done a wonderful job of giving her readers practical suggestions for getting rid of the clutter in their lives. Less is more! ~ Barbara Hemphill, author of Taming the Paper Tiger at Home


‘The police investigation concerning lost teenager Melody Watkins (16) has reached a complete standstill,’ Bex typed. In The Chronicle office, Deirdre, the senior staff journalist, scanned the words on the PC screen over the junior reporter's shoulder. Well, that was true, she mused. ‘Despite her not being a member of the dating site Heart to Heart, her disappearance could be linked to the recent murders of on-line singles, Natalie Saunders (18) and Amber Melrose (20) who were found strangled with twine in their own homes. Police believe that the victims had come into contact with The Love Rat Slayer before he cruelly stole their lives.’ ‘Ah – stop right there!' Deirdre interrupted. As Bex swung round, irritation creased her young, pretty, heavily made-up face. 'You can’t write that,’ Deirdre advised. ‘Not about Melody Watkins. She might have eloped to Gretna Green to marry her boyfriend.’ ‘Melody doesn't have one. I interviewed the family myself,' Bex snapped. 'He could be a secret boyfriend from another area,' her colleague pointed out. Hmm – why hadn't Bex followed this line of enquiry up? Deirdre asked herself if it was worth pursuing… Not likely,’ muttered Bex. ‘Even the Ed agrees with me – The Love Rat Slayer has hunted her down and—' Deirdre shuddered. ‘Who 32

came up with that horrible name?’ ‘I did!' Bex replied. 'It's great, isn't it? The nationals loved it.' Yes, Deirdre acknowledged, the national newspapers had eagerly lapped up the grisly title. The Ed was absolutely thrilled. The Ed relied on Bex to provide the spicy, sensational element for The Chronicle’s readership. Being a long-standing member of staff, Deirdre felt that the newspaper – originally a family friendly publication – had managed perfectly well without it. Perhaps those dropped circulation figures were preying heavily on his mind, she reflected. The fact was, most people had stopped buying local rags – they absorbed the headlines from the TV, radio or the Internet. The Chronicle had its own website, and every day, the apprentices were hard at work on social media and blogs, updating the pages with news and celebrity items. Most of the current material was centred around the enigmatic Love Rat Slayer. ‘A secret source close to the inquiry hinted that Kelly’s disappearance could be a primary cause for concern,' was the next part of Bex’s copy. ‘Who is this secret source?’ Deirdre broke in. ‘Dave Bailey, that dishy DC,' she answered. ‘I rang him ten minutes ago while you were in the loo. It was strictly an 'off the record' chat, of course.’ 'Really?' Deirdre enquired dryly. From her experience, ‘secret sources’ had a nasty habit of being uncovered… It saddened her

that some folk (even expert professionals) were willing to dish the dirt for a sordid stash of hard cash. Bex clicked her fingers. 'Another coffee please.' Deirdre was about to issue the order down the line to an apprentice, but they were all busy. She wandered off to the kitchen and pondered. Bex certainly knew how to smarm around the Ed. The eager twenty-something was dedicated enough, Deirdre admitted. Yet she also found her arrogant, immature and vain. Despite her senior position, Deirdre had been downgraded to cover tame 'human interest' features, such as tap dancing classes for the over 60s or cats that got stuck in unusual places, while Bex's copy was always awarded front page prominence. It was a ridiculous title Bex had given the killer. Not only ridiculous but insensitive too. She obviously hadn't thought that this could upset the deceased girls’ families. Deirdre had brought this issue up with The Ed. Yet he’d gone with it, saying it was appropriate, as it turned out that both Natalie and Amber had been romantically involved with the same man. He was Mike Edwards, 35, a local unmarried accountant. Both girls had met him via the Heart to Heart website. After being arrested and questioned by the police, he’d been released without charge. His solicitor had given a brief statement to the press, then Mike had promptly gone into hiding.

Summer 2015 There'd been a lot of speculation on social media about him. Had he really murdered those girls? If not, why had he run away? His family were worried too. He'd probably employed this avoidance tactic to give sharpnosed hacks like Bex the swerve, Deirdre reasoned. If she'd been given the by-line, her copy would hold a respectful, sympathetic slant – after all, this horrific double murder affected lots of people in lots of different ways. She'd focus on that, instead of drawing attention to the gory aspects of the case. Deirdre hated the way the media glorified in glamorising killing and violence. Yet a far more pressing problem remained. What on earth had happened to Melody Watkins? Wasn’t it time she found out? She dumped a mug of coffee on Bex's desk, quickly booted up her PC and put her professional investigation skills into practice. *** It was 5.30. Home time. ‘I don’t feel safe with this killer on the loose,' Deirdre said, wishing she had a boyfriend to protect her. She thought of Dave Bailey. Bex was right – he was certainly very dishy. She doubted if he’d even look at her – after all, Bex was the one with the attractive looks, slim figure and apparently sparkling personality. ‘Why don’t you stay at mine tonight?’ Bex offered. 'We can chill out – phone for a takeaway and watch a DVD.' Deirdre glanced up in surprise. ‘That’s very kind of you, Bex.' She was touched by the unexpected gesture. 'Thanks.' 'I know how you feel. I live on my own too.' She smiled.

Deirdre returned the smile. It seemed she wasn’t all bad… They collected their bags and coats, and ten minutes later, climbed into Bex’s car and set off. Out on the road, a movement from behind caught Deirdre's eye. ‘Is that driver in the blue mini following us?’ she asked. ‘I don’t think so.’ Bex frowned. 'It's probably just me being paranoid.' She shrugged. 'It's not surprising, given the circumstances.' Bex pulled into a terraced street and parked. She looked behind her. 'He's gone now.' A sense of relief flooded Deirdre. 'Thank goodness!' Once settled in, Bex rang for a pizza. Deirdre peered out of the living room window to look out for the pizza delivery guy. ‘Hey, that blue mini's parked over the road,’ she said. 'The male driver's reading The Chronicle.' ‘Well, if he’s The Love Rat Slayer, the least he can do is grant me an exclusive interview.’ Bex grinned. 'Shall we open a bottle of wine?' Deirdre trotted after Bex as she beetled to the kitchen. It felt as if she'd been trotting behind her forever… The doorbell rang. Pizza. Blimey, that was quick! Funny – despite her stance by the window, Deirdre hadn't seen a pizza delivery van. Then Deirdre heard shouts and banging on the door: 'POLICE! OPEN UP!' She froze. 'What are the police doing here?' 'They must have got the wrong house,' Bex breezed. Instead of answering the urgent raps, strangely, Bex headed for the back kitchen door – it led outside to the garden. She turned the handle, but it was locked.

'Blast! It's locked! Help me, Deirdre!' she pleaded. She was clearly very frightened. 'Help you? What do you mean?' Deirdre stuttered. Why was Bex frightened? 'I can't explain now. Just help me!' 'What do you want me to do?' The volume of the thumping had shifted up a gear. Her heart hammered. Crikey – this was like something out of a film! 'I need to find the key to the back door! I kept it somewhere safe, and I've lost it!' Bex yanked open drawers and frantically pulled things out. Pizza flyers, pens, scissors, notebooks, and even a ball of twine went flying as items crashed and slithered on the floor. Deirdre followed suit. She'd always thought Bex was an organised person… Her thoughts spun wildly, yet she tried to keep them on a steady track. Think, Deirdre, think! Somewhere safe, she'd said… 'POLICE! OPEN UP NOW!' Deirdre felt dizzy and sick. Should she let the police in or— The front door suddenly crashed and splintered. Her blood raced, as a flash of vivid white, yellow and sombre black rushed in. In the burly police team, she recognised Dave Bailey and someone else – it was the driver from the blue mini and he was reciting some familiar words: ‘Rebecca Hardy, I'm arresting you for the murders of Natalie Saunders and Amber Melrose. You are not to obliged to say anything…' the words of the caution faded as the officer handcuffed and led her colleague away. Bex had been arrested! She couldn't believe it! She wouldn't. 'Are you all right?' Dave asked. 'This must be quite a shock.'


Unable to speak, she simply nodded. ‘I see you spotted DCI Baker in the blue mini.’ Dave took a seat at the dining table and indicated that she do the same. Around them, the team frantically searched. She took a deep breath. ‘Why do you suspect Bex? The Love Rat Slayer is a man. Isn't he?' ‘I’ll explain everything.’ The doorbell rang. Dave ran out to answer. She felt tense and on edge. Who was it? What was happening now? He returned with a pizza. ***

‘Why did Bex kill those girls?’ she whispered. ‘Mike Edwards is Bex’s ex too. He dumped her for Natalie. Then he dumped Natalie for Amber,' Dave said. ‘He met them all via the Heart to Heart dating site. We traced Bex's membership details today. She'd used a different

name, of course.' ‘How did she manage to get close enough to them to commit murder?’ He shrugged. ‘She's a journalist. It was easy to track them down. Perhaps she invented a fake feature about fashion? Visited their homes to interview them and then—' Deirdre paled. 'Anyway, thanks to you, we’ve managed to solve one mystery. Melody Watkins turned up safe and well yesterday when she returned home after eloping to Gretna Green with her secret boyfriend. He's from another area – recently reported as a missing person to another police force. They met at a friend's party, apparently. She decided not to marry him, by the way.' 'Good.' Her tracing had yielded results. Dave went on to explain that The Love Rat himself, Mike Edwards had also recently returned to the UK after his brief exile in France.

The Burden Frank is a reformed alcoholic. He lives at home with his mother, Elisabeth – at least, he did until she went into a nursing home suffering from dementia. He is devoted to her and conversely hates his estranged father, Geoffrey. So when elder sister Pat calls to tell him Dad is dying and wants to meet him, Frank is forced to face up to his demons. But what are they? And how did he acquire them? Every family has its secrets and Frank's is no exception. As much as he tries to forget, something happened a long time ago that has coloured his life ever since – and he can't live in peace until he confronts it. Seen from the perspective of four separate family members, The Burden examines an individual's contrasting relationships and the different emotions they inspire. William Faulkner famously said 'The past isn't dead. It's not even past.' The Burden explores, with sensitivity and skill, the way in which events that took place decades ago can impact on the present. Its unsentimental treatment of childhood as a time of confusion and uncertainty is especially acute. Many readers will see elements of themselves in this emotionally engaging novel. ~ Miles Salter, Director, York Literature Festival

N.E. David is the pen name of York writer Nick David. His debut novel, Birds of the Nile, was published by Roundfire in 2013.


Someone shouted for Dave's attention. 'I'll ring you later.' He smiled. 'Perhaps we could meet up sometime?' She instantly understood – he had a job to do. It was a hint to beat a hasty retreat. They'd have plenty of time to catch up later… Deirdre too, would be busy – composing her resignation. With a jolt, she realised that gradually, the world of blazing headlines had lost its appeal. Deirdre sensed that she wouldn't be unemployed for very long. There were lots of avenues to explore. First of all, she'd try freelance work, penning articles for women's magazines. She could even try her hand at a novel. It was a brand new start – and maybe the start of a new romance too!

Summer 2015

If you are a writer, I'm sure you have thought about entering a competition at some point – whether the competition is for a short story, a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a blog post, a play or a novel. Competitions provide a variety of scope and can offer writers a fantastic freedom of style, tone and genre. Here's ten top tips to the secret of competition success. 1. Follow the rules It sounds basic, but you'd be amazed at how many people don't. Some competitions are very strict about the size of font and even the font itself. Then there's the business of actually sending it. Do they want entries via snail mail or e-mail? If it's e-mail, do you paste it in the body of the email itself or send it via an attachment? If so, what kind of attachment? PDF? Word? It can be a pretty complex business, and I can recall plenty of times when I've had to call upon my IT expert hubby for help! Check if your name (and writing name) is required on the story or if it's preferred without. Entry forms can usually be found on the organiser's website. Sometimes a cover sheet with your details is all that's required. Paying the entry fee –there's cheque and Paypal. Make sure that the organisers have received your story and payment. It's a good idea to check out the organisers, too. It's extremely rare for anyone to spend time, money and effort simply to set up a bogus competition in order to run off with your cash, yet this did actually happen to a writer friend of mine. She chased it via email and demanded a refund, yet sadly, she got nowhere. Don't forget the closing date, and the word count must be correct, too. Also the genre, theme and brief should fit the rules. The judges see it like this – if you can't be bothered to follow the instructions, the judges can't bothered to consider your entry. Harsh, but true. 2. Be prepared Write down the closing date of the competition on your calendar.

Give yourself a generous time limit of two months (for a short story) to include re-drafting time. For a novel or a play competition, your time limit will obviously be considerably longer. For blogging competitions, it depends on how many words they require. I'd suggest a working time of 2–3 weeks. This includes re-drafting, resting and editing time. Pick a length of time you feel comfortable with. The important thing is to prepare. Remember that novel and play competitions may require a full synopsis, a list of characters, chapter or scene breakdowns, a detailed outline of your theme and a bio, plus a writer's CV and photo. Phew! Time to get cracking. Write a first draft. Go back, add and edit, print it out, then leave it to rest. Keep doing this until you are completely happy with it. When you've reached the 'completely happy' stage, leave it again for a week, or even two weeks. When you return to it, you should be able to spot things you've missed. Run it past a writer friend and ask for their opinion, because you want to give yourself the best possible chance of winning. 3. Critiques With some competitions, for stories that didn't reach the long or short-list, there is an opportunity to pay extra for an additional critique. These critiques can be a bit hit and miss. I've received good critiques and bad ones. The bad ones have offered me one or two lines only. The good ones go through each weak point and suggest ways of improvement. Is the extra expense worth it? It really depends on whether you plan to send that particular piece of work elsewhere after the competition. 4. Don't dump your back catalogue Stories that have 'done the rounds' are unlikely to win. Don't think 'That one will do' and desperately redraft a rejected old stock story to fit the specified genre or theme. This rarely works, because the judges will see straight through it. It's the lazy writer's tactic. Always attempt to create something new. Surely a fabulous prize and publication is worth the effort? After all, if you are short-listed (or even if you win) this achievement can be proudly added to your CV. 35

5. Be aware of rights Some fiction competitions want to grab all rights, including copyright. Check the terms and conditions carefully before entering. There are ones that state that they automatically hold all copyright to all entries. Simply put, the organisers can use or sell submitted stories any way they like without your permission, because by entering, you have effectively given your work to them. And if there is an entry fee, you've paid for the privilege too. That means that your story is not yours anymore, even if it's got your name on it. You'd be forced to ask the organisers for permission (written probably) if you want to submit your story elsewhere. Writers often don't mind giving away just one story. Yet what if you're entering two, three or four pieces of work? It's your call. 6. Anthologies The prize for these fiction competitions is publication in an anthology. Some of these printed books are sold to raise money for charity. Some, however, aren't. The ones I'm talking about are competitions run by private self- publishing companies. If your story is picked for publication, the publishers may expect you to buy a copy of the anthology that contains your story. The price of this can end up costing you more than the entry fee! 7. The cost of entry fees The cost of entry fees can quickly mount up, so make sure you keep an eye on your spending. Set up a spreadsheet to track your outgoings. Comping can be very addictive, especially after achieving short- list status, runner-up success or an actual win! Competition entry fees for novels and plays can exceed £10. The general rule is, the higher fee, the higher the cash prize on offer. Bear in mind that the organisers need to cover the cost of advertising the competition, plus there's website costs, and often there is admin staff to pay as well. Usually, the entry fees cover the cash prize (or prizes). The organisers will often pay a high profile writer judge (or a panel of judges) a fee too. However, there are several free to enter competitions around. The downside to free ones are that they attract quite a lot of entries. 8. E- magazines, small paper press competitions and online fiction projects There are literally hundreds of e-zines, e-magazines 36

and small paper presses that offer ongoing, open genre short story competitions. The prizes are small, yet this is reflected in the entry fee, so it's worth giving it a go. They usually publish more than one issue per year, and late entries are automatically considered for the next edition. This means that the closing date is not preying on your mind, and with an open genre, you can pick and choose your subject. Pro writers tend to not bother with these much, so for amateur writers, it's more of a level playing field. The editors are often the judges. As for online fiction projects – sometimes the prize is simply publication on their website. 9. Where to find competitions A Google search will bring up plenty of opportunities, plus links to hundreds of websites that list fiction competitions. I have a network of writer friends who tell me about interesting competitions that are posted on their blogs or FB pages. Please return the favour – I also let them know if I stumble across anything that may interest them, too. The two UK writing magazines – Writers' Forum and Writing magazine – also contain plenty of comp details and there are some listed at the back of this magazine. 10. Carry on comping! I love entering fiction competitions. My entries have been long-listed and short-listed, they've been runnerups too, and I've even won first place for a short story competition run by a UK national monthly women's magazine. It's an incredible feeling of elation and achievement to see your name up there on a website with the results! The prizes I've received range from a plant (Yes, that's right – a plant) a book of short stories, a year's free magazine subscription to a kobo e-reader – plus cash and publication too, of course. I relish the challenge, and I try my best to make my entry entertaining, engaging, different and original. Another writer friend of mine was lucky enough to hit the jackpot. Within the space of a few months, she'd scooped an incredible £900 from winning several fiction competitions! She told me that she'd treated herself to a beautiful antique desk with the winnings. It was very well deserved. So work hard and carry on comping, but please make sure you have fun too!

Summer 2015


Peter Cresswell

It is 6.30 am and I’m gradually coming out of sleep. As so often happens, the problem that I was left with the night before is beginning to resolve in my mind. Perhaps it is the reordering and problemsolving of my unconscious, dealing with the events of the previous day. But, in any case, I need to get it all down on paper (well, into the system) before I lose it. I am at my desk half an hour later. I can now see how and why Peter’s ‘confession’ came to be introduced at Mark 8, 29, as part of the process of introducing a new slant to the transfiguration text. I can establish why it has to be a later interpolation. My new appreciation will also necessitate some modifications to earlier parts of my book and some new footnotes … It is now 3.30 pm. My wife comes in with coffee. I have had no breakfast and no lunch. It is time to get on with the rest of the day: walk the dog, do some housework and gardening, help with the running of our joint business. I have spent probably over 1,000 hours on my new book. It squeezes out time for recreation, leaves my desk cluttered with unanswered correspondence. I don’t yet have a publishing deal. Why am I doing this? It is a good question. Well, one straight answer is, certainly not for the money, even if I do end up selling lots of copies by most standards. It is a question that all potential authors need to address. The number of new titles is rising almost exponentially, faster than any possible growth in 38

population and readership. For every one successful fiction writer, there are many scores of others, with just as good or even better books that either do not get published or successfully marketed. For every recreational, lifestyle or occupational niche, there’s already someone good out there who has covered it. To get a foothold, you have to be better than them, and persistent and lucky. You have to have something new to say, and be sure of it. It has to be something that wakes you up in the morning, drives you on, and gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you have got it (whatever it is) just right. So, what drives me? I am both lucky and unlucky in having stumbled on a field, biblical textual analysis or more specifically New Testament textual analysis, that offers the scope to make advances and really significant discoveries. And I am, day by day, doing just that. There are a combination of reasons. It is the one field of study that has successfully resisted the Enlightenment. Circumvented by scholars in other disciplines, it has been left to its own devices as a curious survival, run by a conservative, religious establishment. It runs all the journals, conferences and the university departments, keeping at bay the world outside and outsiders. It is not entirely their fault that they remain a closed community, imprisoned by their own constructs. Not very many non-Christians are motivated to spend three or four years studying theology, while also learning to read the original texts in ancient Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. But the believers are for the most part held back by their own preconceptions, no matter how many years they study. So, they have, over a very long period, made little or no progress. This leaves me like someone from the 21st century

Summer 2015 thrown back in time, to the era before Darwin. I have the skills. There is so much to discover. The point is that I am back in time, but only in the field of New Testament textual analysis. This is because, for this field, time really has stood still. This is the upside. Few people nowadays ever have such an opportunity. It has taken a while for me to realise that there may be no one else out there doing what I am doing, from an objective and dispassionate perspective. The downside is that I am treated with cordial, though barely suppressed, disdain and hostility. The religious establishment would like me to go away and patently hopes to ignore me and my findings out of existence. But just as Robert Eisenman did, in breaking the stranglehold on publication and interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I am making the breakthroughs that cannot be ignored. As Eisenman said at the time, ‘the game is up’. There can be no more tight teams of like-minded members from a religious establishment withholding texts and keeping other scholars at bay for decades, no more official versions manipulating interpretation of texts to conform to pre-existing beliefs. There can be no closed circuit of apologetics masquerading as scholarship. The books that are going to be landmarks, like The Invention of Jesus: How the Church Rewrote the New Testament will be published, but not by them. We do now, in Eisenman’s words, have ‘free competition and free thinking’. And, even if nothing

else of significance turns up in a long-buried clay jar, dessicated spoil heap or even prized (scandalously) from the material of a first century Egyptian funerary mask, there is plenty of scope from the so-far poorly analysed material that we already have. It gets me up and at my desk at daybreak. So then, why are you doing it?

Peter Cresswell is author of Jesus the terrorist, O Books, 2010, The Invention of Jesus, Watkins 2013, and is currently working on The Hidden Gospel of Jesus.

When editing your book, read it aloud. This will take patience and you’ll need plenty of breaks to sip a drink and ease your dry throat. It’ll be worth it though as it will throw up more typos, missing words and lack of flow in dialogue than you would spot just by reading it through several times.


Bellino processed along the hallowed nave of the Sistine Chapel with the other boys, his ill-fitting leather slippers pattering as the choir’s feet shuffled over the polished marble. He glanced nervously at the oblique patches of light that brought life to the carved effigies and monuments lining the side aisles and catching sight of the illuminated grace of Caravaggio’s Madonna, he made a silent plea to her, 'Please, oh Holy Mother, save me from the surgeon’s knife.' Brass incense burners, swung by solemn faced acolytes, filled the Chapel with eddies of spiceladen smoke and Bellino noticed how the flashes of ruby light they emitted fell like splashes of blood on the mosaic floor. He heard the great bells of St Peter’s ring out over the Vatican and Rome and knew that he’d been sucked into something so powerful that he, a mere eight-year-old boy, had little hope of escape. All the same he was determined, for his mother’s sake, to sing as well as he possibly could so that the masters of the choir would keep him. Bellino’s day had started with a fierce scrubbing that had left his flesh red, his unruly curls de-loused and combed into submission, and the fraying edges of his freshly laundered clothes trimmed.

‘The whole family is depending on you, Bellino, you are our only hope of salvation now your father’s been imprisoned,’ his mother had said, hugging him tight. ‘You sing like a canary, little one, make the Cardinals love you, then they will train you, educate you and you will become famous and rich…’ ‘If Mama sells you to the Vatican, she’ll have money for food again and you can have shoes of your own and not take mine,’ said his sister, Lucia. ‘I will try my best … but will they cut me, make me castrato, so my voice will always stay like a girl’s, like the famous Farinelli?’ he asked. ‘It is an honour, nothing to be ashamed of,’ his mother had scolded. ‘Just look how princes and nobles fawn over the castrati, how they are fêted all over Europe! The great Mr Handel may even compose an opera for you – imagine that!’ 40

Bellino walked the lengthy corridors of the Vatican on that first day with an awed mixture of excitement and apprehension. He knew nothing of what took place behind the closed doors of palaces such as this; got no sense of the centuries of Cardinals scheming over dominion, the ruthless jostling for position or of the conspiratorial whispers from behind the threatening iron grills set into the walls of these dark corridors of power. But he did feel an aura heavy with fear that lingered there. Suddenly he remembered the tales he’d heard of inquisitors, torture and dank prison cells like the one his father was now locked in. He wanted to run, but he didn’t, and it was not only because running was forbidden; it was more on account of Lucia’s slippers, for despite him keeping his toes firmly scrunched, he knew they would fall off, and besides, it was 1739, not the middle ages. Now, he was told, were times of beauty, of wonderful architecture, sublime music, opera and art, even though families like his saw little evidence of it as they struggled for existence in the poor quarters of the city.

The organ music soared, the choir chanted and as black-clad priests entered the chapel, and the Cardinals, beatific in crimson and purple, took their places in readiness for the arrival of his holiness, the Pope, Bellino put his terrors behind him. He glanced at Michelangelo’s ceiling, glorifying God and the creation, before lowering his gaze to the blaze of light being emitted by hundreds of flickering candles and as it came to rest on the glittering gold and silver chalices covering the altar, he knew that he must be stupido to be afraid. If he could just hold that high C or even the F, then he would be accepted into the Vatican. They would send him to study at the conservatory, his family would be secure with food on the table, but not before he’d been placed in a tub of warm water, lulled to a stupor by opium and the barber had mutilated him to preserve his cherished voice. After the slow ponderous procession from the Chapel, Bellino slipped out of Lucia's shoes and concealing them beneath the folds of his robe,

Summer 2015 hurried with the other members of the choir to the chambers where they would rehearse the ‘Laudamas Te’ for the evening service. ‘I heard the crystal clarity of the F in the ‘Dies Irae’, boys, now let me see if any of you can reach across three octaves and hold the high C,’ the priest said. As the boys lined up beside the countertenors, tenors and the resident castrati, Bellino knew he could reach the notes, that was why he was here; it was that ability his mother was depending on. It was now up to him to sing it in the pure, high pitch that could only be produced by a boy soprano like himself, or, a castrato. He watched and listened as two other boys sang solo and knew he could do better. Then one of the castrati gave them a demonstration of the same notes, produced with the same pitch and range, but delivered with the power from the lungs of a grown man. The castrato added a few of his own embellishments and flourishes, showing off his vocal acrobatics and making Bellino gasp out loud. ‘Yes, you may gasp and gawp, Bellino, but now you see what the human voice is capable of – is it not a more wondrous instrument than any devised by man?’

When Bellino’s turn came, he knew this was his moment of truth; the time when he must and would hit the high C, hold it, trilling, and dazzling all who listened and in so doing seal his fate. Just for a moment, before he began the ‘Pie Jesu,’ he thought again of not reaching those needed notes, of sacrificing his family rather than his manhood, but even as he wavered, the ever-present pangs of hunger gnawed at his stomach, and his pride, too strong to let him fail, forced him to open his mouth and sing. His voice would never falter, he would become castrato, endure the long arduous years of training, be given an unsurpassed education and maybe, if he worked hard and was lucky, he would become rich and his family would rejoice that they’d sold their only son to be castrated for the Church of Rome. As his solo came to an end, Bellino felt a hand on his shoulder, and looking up saw the beaming face of the choirmaster, ‘Multo benissimo, Bellino,’ he said, and the assembled castrati nodded their approval. Veryan Williams-Wynn’s young adult book The Spirit Trap published by Lodestone books will be out in a few months.

It isn't what happens to you, it's what great warmth and generosity of spirit by you do when it happens. a gifted writer. ~ Kauser Ahmed, PhD clinical psycholoThrough the trauma of breast cancer gist Simms/Mann - UCLA Center for InteAlicia Garey came out of the writing clos- grative Oncology et to share her experience and how she restored her balance. Facing the chal- Alicia Garey’s What a Blip takes you on lenges of motherhood, running an interi- an honest and at times uncomfortable or design business while also being a journey of the challenges one faces with wife, daughter, sister and friend, Alicia cancer, while giving an in-depth, soulful celebrates the gift of life through a new look at not only this disease but the inner lens, and finds the joy by seeing the light fears that arise and the fortitude it takes in her darkest hours. to stay focused on the result and accept nothing less. Alicia gives direction and Alicia dedicates her story to all of us who tips on how to achieve success, and exhave or will face a terrifying life chal- plores the courage it took to look this lenge. As far as she can tell, the challeng- massive wild animal in the eye head on es do indeed come our way, and we without ever backing down. learn from them. What a Blip is heart-wrenching, endearA genuinely wise and funny account of ing, and gives any woman who is facing living through breast cancer and finding or diagnosed with cancer extraordinary meaning on the other side. Alicia puts hope. into words what so many women on the ~ Amy Gibson, Founder and Client Creatunexpected journey through cancer feel, Leading Hair Loss Consultant and never say; this book gives solace to and Wig Designer in the U.S., Alopecia all who wonder - is it just me? A truly Activist, Talk Show Host, Producer, Ausensitive and inspired story, told with thor

Alicia Garey is an interior designer and blog contributor for the Huffington Post. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and their two children.


Writing a Stand-up Comedy Routine—an excerpt WHO ARE YOU? STAGE PERSONA Your stage persona is the person you are when performing. It may be a heightened version of your real life self or it may be a character you’ve created. It will be your identity tag, the thing that distinguishes you from all the other comedians out there and the way reviewers and listings will describe you. Your persona should approach ideas and topics with a distinctive, fresh and unique style and sense of humour. Your persona will then define the material you use, the topics you talk about and the thing that will give your material credibility. Comedy can lose its edge if it doesn’t fit the person you are on stage. So, let’s start building a stage persona. An easy way is to start with yourself. OK, you know you can make people laugh in real life so what’s wrong with just doing the same thing on stage? In theory, nothing. In real life however you don’t make people laugh a couple of times every minute. In real life we have to know when to be serious and when to be funny, on stage you have to be funny all the time. A stage persona is then a selective exaggeration of aspects of your natural self. Be careful of exaggerating too much however as things could become unrealistic, incredible or bizarre, unless that’s the persona you’re aiming for. Once you have a handle on what it is about you, and how and why you are able to make people laugh, you’re on your way. If you know how it works it’s easier to keep it working and it’s easier to mend if it goes wrong. A persona may later need to be refined or retuned with an audience. The important thing is to be aware of the necessity for a persona and to take time to think it through. TO DO: Watch TV, DVDs and online video clips, go to live comedy venues and watch and listen to other comedians to see how and why they’re different.


Look at how they dress, think about what is unique about their attitude, approach to topics and their style of delivery. Learn from others but don’t try to copy another comedian’s style. You want to be unique, remember? A note of warning. Be careful of writing or recording anything in a live comedy venue. It may be thought you’re stealing material. DOMINANT TRAIT If you read reviews of stand-up acts you’ll find they’re often described in a few words – curmudgeonly, cynical, laconic (Jack Dee), clever insecurity (Woody Allen), high octane lunacy (Jason Byrne), ranting, raucous and extremely foul-mouthed (Jerry Sadowitz), a fine purveyor of lugubrious surrealism (Mick Ferry). We can call these few words a dominant trait and this can be centred on a persona’s style of delivery, their attitude or even the kind of material they use. Tim Vine for instance is known as the Punslinger for his dominant trait of using puns. TO DO: Define your dominant trait using a couple of adverbs and adjectives. This will give you a basic framework on which to mould everything else that will define your stage persona. Everything else includes not only your material, we’ll come to that in a later chapter, it also includes your attitude, mannerisms, style of delivery, voice inflections, what you call yourself, the way you dress and any catch phrase you may have. We’ll look at these in turn and if you then find a better dominant trait than the one you started with, go back and make everything fit with that trait. Everything has to be logical and consistent. ATTITUDE Your on-stage attitude is the most important aspect of your persona as it will be integral to the kind of material you use and how you’ll deliver it. Two comedians may talk about the same topic but have different points of view and a different range of emotions and ways of portraying those emotions.

Summer 2015 TO DO: Consider whether you’re going to be serious, angry, sarcastic, polite, crazy, surreal, cerebral, political, good natured, whimsical, downright aggressive and opinionated, or something else. Again, think of how a reviewer might describe you in a single or few words. Once you’ve defined your attitude this will give your delivery style. Someone with an aggressive attitude could be expected to rant and have a rapid delivery style, maybe punctuated with a lot of bad language. The persona of a whimsical character on the other hand might be expected to have a slow, laid back style that drifts off into flights of fancy. Alternatively, you may decide on a deadpan style of delivery in which you say everything in a laid back matter-offact way. These personas are logical and credible but a dominant attitude can have a range of moods and emotions. TO DO: Imagine the scenario of an aggressive persona talking about someone knocking on their door to return a £10 note they’ve dropped in the street. An unlikely situation perhaps but go with it. It’s not a situation which naturally invites an aggressive response and there’s not much comedy in a nice ‘thank you’. So what does this persona do or say? To keep in character you’ll need to think of a reason or a situation for the person to respond with an aggressive attitude.

Jenny Roche has over 15 years’ experience of teaching writing courses and has sold her writing for print, theatre and broadcast mediums.

600ppm NATURE IS COLLAPSING, AND THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW WHY. It's 2051. Global warming has flooded eastern U.S. coastal cities. The West is a waterless desert. Refugees migrate northward. Food and water are tightly rationed amid endless war. When Jeff Claymarker's friend is wrongly convicted of murder, the only clue to the truth comes from a stash of flash drives belonging to Jeff's late uncle, a Washington climate scientist. As Jeff unravels the crime, he stumbles across a state secret that threatens to topple the government. I love this book! A fascinating, believable and well-crafted look at what the climate-changed world might be like in 35 years. Plot, suspense, characterization, pacing – it's all good. You won't want to put it down until the very last sentence. ~ Jeri Studebaker, author of Breaking the Mother Goose Code

Clarke W. Owens writes fiction, poetry, journalism, and literary criticism. He is married and lives in rural Ohio. Visit his website at .


I was lying on a sandy beach watching the Italian film star Virna Lisi walk towards me. As she approached, she loosened a chiffon scarf tied around her neck and let it fall on the sand. Then she unfastened her skirt, and it floated to the ground. She walked on leaving a trail of clothes behind her. She came up to me, caressed my shoulder and said, “Wake up.” The scene froze. It was like that moment in the flicks when the film jams, then burns out in a magnesium flash and everyone laughs and throws popcorn at the screen. I smelt Craven A on stale breath as Beatrice Gribble hissed in my ear, “Wake up.” My eyes opened. I glanced at my alarm clock. 4.30am. I said, “What’s up? Is the place on fire?” “It’s worse,” she said. “My brother’s downstairs. Something bad has happened.” I was dressed and in her parlour within five minutes. The room was stuffed with ancient furniture. There were fussy antimacassars on the chairs and lace doilies on the tables. The place smelt of mothballs. Mrs Gribble - the Widow to her tenants – was my landlady. Her brother Derek was a layabout who spent half his time fishing and the other half complaining he never caught anything. He lounged on the Widow’s sofa wearing a stained anorak and a worried expression. He smelt like a herring. He said, “I’ve been on the beach fishing.” I said, “At this hour?” “Tide’s up. Thought I might try for those mackerel which’ve been coming up the Channel. Found something else instead: a pile of clothes down by the breakwater.” “Probably washed in by the tide,” I said. “No. These were placed there, deliberate like. There was a note, too. Thought you might want to see it, you being the crime correspondent on the Brighton Evening Chronicle and everything.” “Just crime, not everything,” I said. He handed me the note. It read: “Everyone’s got it wrong about me. It wasn’t my fault my company went down the pan owing big time. The papers say I’ve stashed half a mill in my Swiss account. They say I bilked thousands out of their hardearned savings. All lies. I’m skint too. I’m walking into the sea now. And I can’t even swim.” It was signed Hector Pinchbeck. “King of the get-rich-quick investment scam,” I said. “He’s set up more pyramid schemes than the pharaohs.” “And now he’s lying with the fishes.” Derek grinned. “Feasting with sharks, more like,” I said. “Big money sharks. If he walked into the sea, I’m Lloyd Bridges. The fraud squad is on his tail. He’s scarpered. The question is: can we stop him before he leaves the country?”

Even before Derek and I reached the beach, I was sure Hector Pinchbeck hadn’t gone for a stroll under the English Channel. Suicide by drowning was a ruse to throw the fraud squad off his tail. The idea that he’d end it all by walking into the sea was risible. Pinchbeck wouldn’t walk into a shower cubicle unless he thought he’d make something out of it.


We hiked along the seafront to Black Rock, where Derek had first spotted the clothes. The early glow of dawn lit the sky in the east as we approached the breakwater. Derek pointed out the neat little pile down by the water’s edge. He picked up his rod. “Don’t mind if I get a line out while the tide’s still up, do you?” he asked. “Only hope I don’t reel in old matey here.” “There’s no danger of that.” I knelt on the shingle and examined the clothes. Pinchbeck must have been an optimist to believe that the boys in blue would think he’d stripped off these togs and then plunged into the briny. For a start, the shirt and underwear smelt of soap as though they were fresh back from the laundry. The shoes weren’t scuffed as they would have been had he trudged across the shingle. And the jacket – a cheap number which looked like a reject from a second-hand shop – lacked Pinchbeck’s trademark show handkerchief in the breast pocket. Everything had been carried down in a bag and placed there. I had little doubt Pinchbeck was even now fleeing the country so that he could be safely reunited with the loot in his Swiss bank account. But which route would he take? I’d hoped the clothes might provide a clue. I rummaged among them again and a small wristwatch slipped out of a trouser pocket. It was a cheap job, not like Pinchbeck’s usual Rolex. I picked it up and wound it. The spring turned once and then stuck. The watch had been wound within an hour. Derek tugged on his fishing rod and said, “I think I’ve caught something.” “Me, too,” I said.

“So how did you know the old rogue was catching the early morning ferry from Newhaven?” Frank Figgis, my news editor, asked. It was later that morning. Figgis perched on the edge of my desk in the Chronicle’s newsroom. The stub of a Woodbine stuck to his lower lip. “It was the watch that gave him away,” I said. “He couldn’t resist winding it before he left. He’s a control freak. Most fraudsters are. So I knew he couldn’t be more than an hour away. “He’d want to quit the country as soon as possible after he’d left the clothes, in case someone found them more quickly than expected. As Derek did. So he’d head for the first available transport out. Which at that time of the morning was the early boat to Dieppe.” “After your call, the cops arrested him before his ship sailed,” Figgis said. I grinned. “Ironic that his watch gave him away. Now he’ll be doing time.” Headline Murder, the first Crampton of the Chronicle novel is published by Roundfire Books on 28 August. Read more Crampton of the Chronicle stories at Follow author Peter Bartram on Facebook at

Summer 2015

Dielle Ciesco has magically tapped into the sacred shamanic voice that resides deep in the heart of all creation. Matrina, the Unknown Mother, reminds us that sound and words have the power to heal what ails humanity when we are willing to surrender to the Great Mystery... Linda Star Wolf, Author of Shamanic Breathwork: Journeying Beyond the Limits of the Self and Visionary Shamanism: Activating the Imaginal Cells of the Human Energy Field It isn’t every day that one meets a goddess, let alone a Matrika or being that presides over the sounds of language. It is said such deities can bring us complete liberation. Will that prove true for a struggling vocalist named Wrenne when a mysterious woman appears and offers to help her find her True Voice? This beguiling and eccentric teacher guides us all on a deep and powerful journey through 10 mystical gates of sound, sharing great insights, secrets, and profound wisdom about the power of letters, words, and our very own voice to transform the world around us. This isn’t standard knowledge; this is a gift for our times, taking the reader into the very heart of sonic revelations. Dielle Ciesco has magically tapped into the sacred shamanic voice that resides deep in the heart of all creation. Matrina, the Unknown Mother, reminds us that sound and words have the power to heal what ails humanity when we are willing to surrender to the Great Mystery. As the creator of Shamanic Breathwork Journeys, I believe that Matrina must have been whispering her wisdom in my ears these many years while I slept! ~ Linda Star Wolf, Author of Visionary Shamanism: Activating the Imaginal Cells of the Human Energy Field

"This book is alive. It senses your presence. It is meant to be like an apprenticeship with a wise teacher...the teacher being you. There is power on every page should you choose to open to receive it. In fact, this book is reading you just as you are reading it. It's in partnership with Life, and the three of you, whether you realize it or not, are colluding to give you exactly what you need. It will arrive, whether or not you follow through on the exercises. Your intent is enough to bring it to you. Will you be aware when it arrives or will the moment pass unrecognized?" A treasure trove of poetic activations and sound wisdom based on The Unknown Mother: A Magical Walk with the Goddess of Sound, YOUR TRUE VOICE is a stand-alone or companion text offering detailed practices that encourage your enchanted journey through the 10 Gates of Sound...The Vocal Channel, Breath, Letters, Words, Storytelling, Listening, Vibration, Vocal Toning, True Voice, and Rainbow Light, and beyond. Included are quotes from the original text, explanations, anecdotes, journal prompts, and the all new Transformational Voicework processes…powerful tools to help you recover your authenticity, creativity, and truth for a fully-expressed Self! Your True Voice offers a unique approach to developing "free speech" and aligning with impeccability revealing the outrageous joy awaiting your heartfelt connection to life. The poetic wisdom and practices, thought-provoking and fun, make a powerful awareness-building combo! Dielle encourages her reader toward loving responsibility for all aspects of our expression and helps us remember that when coming from the heart, whether we move quietly and speak in a whisper or sing out at the top of our lungs, our truth will echo through the cosmos with a roar! ~ Gini Gentry, Dreaming Heaven co-creator-DVD and Journeybook

Dielle Ciesco specializes in the transformational power of the voice to heal and connect us with our own Divinity. Creator of Vocal Toning Meditation, Shamanic Voicework, and Toning for Peace, she blends her experiences in vocal toning, meditation, and shamanism to assist clients in discovering a deeper connection to their inner truth and wisdom. 45

Short Stories


Literary Events

The High Sheriff's Cheshire Prize for National Literacy Trust partnership with Literature 2015 Bloomsbury Publishing

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Prizes: The prize-winner will receive £2000 and additional prize money of £750 will be awarded and the best entries will be published. Entry fee: Free. Further info: The 2015 Cheshire Prize for Literature is for a previously unpublished short story. The entry should not exceed 1500 words. The Competition is open to residents of Cheshire, Warrington, Wirral and Halton including those who have ever lived or worked in the area. The entry should not exceed 1500 words. Closing date: 1st September, 2015.

A festival of open horizons and energising ideas, at the heart of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature. 17 days, 750 events, 800 authors, over 40 different countries represented. Bookworms, bibliophiles and internationally acclaimed authors and thousands of aspiring writers will descend on Edinburgh. It's massive and wonderful. 15– 31 August, 2015 Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland. Click here for more information

Click here for more information

Prizes: A brand new iPad; £250 of Bloomsbury titles; a framed copy of the finished poster featuring your poem; Exclusive celebration event to reveal the prize-winner. Two runnersup will also be chosen, and all short-listed poets will be invited to the celebration event. Entry fee: £8 per entry. Please note this competition is open to all aged 16+. Further details: Entrants must submit a 2 to 16 line poem aimed at children and young people, on the themes of reading and/or literature and based on the themes of reading and literature. They may be written in any form: limericks, odes, performance poems, haikus and everything in between! Closing date: 31st August 2015.

Manchester Fiction and Poetry Priz- Click here for more information es Manchester Fiction and Poetry Prizes Prizes: £10,000 plus publication online and in print in each category. Entry fee: £17.50. Short stories up to 2,500 words. Closing date: 25th September 2015.

Click here for more information

Prizes: £10,000 plus publication online and in print in each category. Entry fee: £17.50. A portfolio of poetry (3-5, maximum 120 lines). Closing date: 25th September, 2015. For more information click here.

Reading Room Short Story Competition Prize: £50, publication, 5 copies of book, runners up publication and 5 copies of the book. Entry fee £4 per story or 3 stories for £10. Any story under 2,000 words, any theme, any genre. Closing date: 20th October, 2015. Click here for more information

National Poetry Competition Prizes: First Prize: £5000; Second Prize: £2000; Third Prize: £1000; Seven commendations: £200. Entry fee: £6.50 for the first poem, £3.50 thereafter. Further details: Maximum length 40 lines per poem. The competition is open to anyone aged 17 or over at the time of entering. International entries are welcome. Closing date: 31st October, 2015. For more information click here.


The International Agatha Christie Festival The festival takes place in the elegant seaside town of Torquay, in Devon, UK, where the author was born on 15 September 1890. 11th -20th September, 2015 Torre Abbey.Torquay, Devon, England Click here for more information

Uxbridge Literary Festival Will feature a variety of presentations, readings, discussions, masterclasses and performances with successful contemporary writers and local writing groups. All events will be free, albeit ticketed, and held at Brunel University London, the Uxbridge Library, Southlands in West Drayton, and the Great Barn in Ruislip. 16-18 October 2015 London Borough of Hillingdon Will Self (right), Kate Mosse, Deborah Moggach, Benjamin Zephaniah, Laura Barnett. Click here for more information

Summer 2015


Writers Wheel Magazine Issue 6 Midsummer 2015  

Welcome to the sixth midsummer issue of Writer’s Wheel, the FREE online creative writing magazine from Compass Books. In this issue N. E. D...