Dark Cities: A dark twist on spoken word 2017

A year today I was included in the Dark Cities, an anthology inspired by a challenge set by Dr Karl Bell. The writers were asked to create fiction based on our urban surroundings and to celebrate the launch we had a book reading at The Hunter Gatherer café in Southsea. Twelve months later I was asked to arrange a Dark City spoken word event, which would be part of Portsmouth Darkfest.

But what to do, another book reading? Well, we did that last year. A spoken word event based on horror – what so close to the excellent Day of the Dead at the Square Towers? What to do, what to do? At last I decided to throw a few challenges into the evening.

  1. The piece was only supposed to last seven minutes, and if the artist went over their time limit there would be a forfeit.
  2. The pieces would be judged! The audience would pick their favourites.

I was a little worried how they would deal with the extra pressure, but I shouldn’t have been, everyone rose to the challenge. From detail descriptions of electric shock therapy, memories of mental hospital corridors, monsters under the bed to how death likes to spend her time while waiting for victims to pop their clogs, the evening was bursting with creativity.

Alas, as with every competition there can only be a few winners, and the dark crystal goblet was taken home by Jules Garvey-Welsh, other prizes were scooped up by Jackson Davies, Margaret Jennings and Susan Shipp.

Jackson Davies

Jules Garvey-Welsh

Susan Shipp

Margaret Jennings

William Sutton performed spine tingling music and host Matt Wingett gave out the prizes. But I would also like to thank a few hard working helpers who weren’t in the limelight. My daughter Jessica who took lots of lovely photographs and is hoping to make a behind the scenes video, watch this space. My oldest daughter Abigail who helped to count the votes and sat in a draft all evening doing the boring bits. Jo West who arrived with books, chairs and a loving smile. Johnny Sackett who arrived with screens. Mona King Creative for the awesome programmes and Brian Morton at The Hunter Gatherer, he is definitely the host with the most and even provided for our favourite vegan!

Christine Lawrence

Helen Salisbury

Roz Ryska-Onions

Alison Habens

Justin MacCormack

It was brilliant evening and I was just wowed by all the performers; Roz Ryska-Onions, Justin MacCormack, Alison Habens, Helen Salisbury and Christine Lawrence.

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Dark Cities: A Dark Twist on a Spoken Word and Music

It’s not long until the Dark Cities Event! Woohoo.

So this time last year, Dr Karl Bell headed The Supernatural Cities project and group of talented local writers, many of whom are members of the Portsmouth Writers Hub, produced an anthology of supernatural, weird, crime and horror tales set in Portsmouth. This book was launched during Portsmouth DarkFest 2016 and called Dark Cities. To celebrate its first year book day, we will be celebrating with a Spoken Word event with a twist.

We have invited some local writers and poets to compete for a Dark Goblet, each artist will be given seven minutes to entertain the audience with horror, humour or perhaps something weird, but it should have a urban feel. The audience will be able to vote for their favourite act of the night. However, go over the time limit and there will be penalties.

Music, mulled wine and munches prepared lovingly by the Hunter Gatherer staff, competitions for the audience, it should be an exciting evening.

Dark Cities: A Dark Twist on a Spoken Word and Music

15th Nov Hunter Gatherer Coffee, 249 Albert Rd, Southsea PO4 0JR 7-9pm Free Entry all welcome.

Lets look at our line up!

William Sutton, writer, musician, playwright, raconteur, bon-vivant and, most importantly, author of the Campbell Lawless series of Victorian mystery novels.

Jules Garvey Welsh was the winner of the Countrywide Writeidea writing competition 2016 , and on the 1st and 2nd of February 2018 she will be putting on a production of her play based on her book, The Field Street Monologues at The Titchfield Festival Theatre. 

Jackson Davies is a spoken word artist from Southsea his work aims to showcase creative rhyming and wordplay with a political spin, alongside more tongue-in-cheek verses.

Clare Campbell-Collins writer, performer and play write recently wrote The Cold Room, the play was staged at the College Theatre, St. Vincent College.

Alison Habens is the author of Dreamhouse, a 1990s cult novel based on Alice in Wonderland her new novels are a quirky retelling of the St Veronica myth, The True Picture; and a postmodern rom-com, Pencilwood.

Roz Ryszka-Onions has been writing on and off for over twenty years and today will be reading a new story ‘Beside myself’ – not strictly speaking horror, as it’s a story about depression and electric shock treatment, but most definitely horrific.

Helen Salisbury novel The Worry Bottles was shortlisted for the 2017 Impress Prize for New Writers; her writing explore the complexity of relationships, and how the environments we live in shape us.

Margaret Jennings writing offers some home truths and looks at the world from different angles, a regular short story winner who was recently ‘highly commended’ in The Hampshire Writers Society short story competition.

Sue Shipp, Portsmouth writer and performer is a regular at the cities most exciting spoken word events including the recent Holmes Fest and one of my personal favourite performers Justin MacCormack an horror writing genius will also be on stage!

And of course myself and Matt Wingett will be hosting the party!

 

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Counting Tomatoes

September – gosh, what a year. It is only now that I’m feeling better that I realise just how ill I have been. I haven’t blogged or vlogged for a very long time!
Scary.
Somehow, and despite all advice I received at the start of the year, I carried on juggling paid work and did my best to fulfill commitments. Result? I got fatigued. But now months down the line, I’ve ended up with a diagnosis, and I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact I need to make significant changes in my lifestyle.
So, now it is the not so simple task and putting said changes into action.

1. Remembering and consistently taking my medication.
2. Adopting a ‘spoon’ lifestyle – more about that another day.
3. Initially, checking in with my better half when accepting work to stop becoming over committed.
4. And not beat myself up about my editing/writing goals – but carry on using what I call, my tomato technique.

It’s actually called the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo and was super big in the 90’s, when I sort of stopped using this method when an evil ex broke my egg timer. So I was trying to recover, and feeling guilty and frustrated about the lack of work I was doing when fellow SCBWI member and picture book author Chitra Sounar challenged people to doing tomatoes on Facebook. It was just the gentle nudge I needed.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The pomodoro technique is a proven and popular time management life hack.
The main premise behind the technique is to work in blocks of time, typically 25 minutes long (called pomodoro sessions), followed by a 5 minute break. Each pomodoro session should demand your full attention on one task, every break requires you to step away from your work to rest.
The result is greatly improved productivity during focused work sessions that can be maintained through effectively managing distractions and taking regular breaks.

Cheap as chips, you don’t even have to buy a timer, you can use your phone or the many free apps on line.
Like everything there are good and bad points. Do really successful people need a timer ticking away? It’s all or nothing, you have to do your twenty five minutes to get your tick in the box.

But – this tried and tested method had meant that over the summer I have done something. No I am not at the point I wanted to be at. And some days I only managed one tomato. But I have been able to chip away at a mammoth task.
So, the glorious six weeks of the summer with my girls has helped me put things into perspective. We have had some amazing days out, squeezed into my oldest daughter work heavy schedule. I have had a massive Spring? Summer? Nearly Autumn clean. Sorted out the car and the garden. And best of all got back to looking forward.

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Generosity

A few weeks ago I received some very sad news, one of the members of The Writers at Lovedean, John Palmer, sadly passed away. He was taken by that truly horrible disease, cancer, and we will feel his loss.

However, despite the fact The Writers at Lovedean are a small group I was once again surprised by the generosity of our members. Earlier this year we had run a charity short story competition to raise money for Portsmouth MS, and everyone just threw themselves into all the various jobs. Everyone helped with marketing, judging, sending out the prizes. So, I was taken aback that members wanted to do another charity event so soon.

The lovely, Jules Garvey-Welch, playwright, and author of ‘The Field Street Monologues’ kindly jumped into action and organised a coffee morning at her home, with the proceeds going to cancer research.

Jules proved to be the hostess with the mostess and provided a lovely selection of cakes and biscuits. It was nice to spend a relaxed couple of hours chatting with friends, and Jules’s kindness was greatly appreciated.

Jules Garvey-Welsh

https://thecomedycrowd.com/members/jules-garvey-welch/

https://www.amazon.com/Field-Street-Monologues-Jules-Garvey-Welch-ebook/dp/B0721NFDZ5

 

 

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Star and Crescent Press and Social Media Masterclass

Well, I had a nice day and it’s been a while. I was extremely nervous about leaving my daughter on her birthday, but we did have a small party yesterday squeezed into her hectic A Level revision timetable. And we have booked a restaurant for after the exam. So… I headed off to Pompey with my friend who offered to drive and we were both shocked to see that the parking in the city has jumped up from a fiver to £12 for the day. Reeling from the shock, we head to the Eldon business for the Star and Crescent Press and Social Media Masterclass for Writers.
The first session was from Tom Sykes; he is a university staff member, co-founder of the Star and Crescent and a journalist. I certainly picked up some great tips on pitching non-fiction ideas. The information on getting an angle was incredibly useful. I did a brainstorm during the session, and I have already made a list of places I want to pitch. If I were asked what I took away from Tom, I would say it was the emphasis of not rushing and polishing a pitch.
After lunch, it was Sarah Cheverton, a lovely lady with so much energy despite health problems that she just leaves me in awe!  We had a fun look at successful writers Facebook and Twitter pages.  I NEED to change mine, urgently.  Sarah stressed the importance of enjoying what you do, and I realised that is something I need to make it a priority.  The afternoon session left me with a pretty extensive to-do list, but I’m eager to get on and do it!

Today, gave me a real injection of passion, which is much needed, maybe it was just the fact that the room was filled with so many positive and upbeat characters.

I’ve popped the links to the Star and Crescent and also Portsmouth Writing Hub below, both sites are a hive of information and support to writers.

www.starandcrescent.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/groups/portsmouthwritershub/

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Memories of the Edward King Project

2017 has been a rough year in some ways, but in others, eventful. Perhaps, the universe has sent me a bit of support because this year it has been my privilege to be one of the writers on The Edward King Project.

The painter Edward King is connected to Portsmouth through his time as a patient at St James Hospital in Milton and is notable for painting scenes of the blitzed city.  King moved to South Harting near Petersfield with his brother in 1884 where he eventually married.  However, when in 1924 Edward’s wife Amelia died of consumption he suffered a breakdown as a result. King was committed to St James Hospital in 1925, where he lived until he died of a stroke in 1951.During his time at the hospital, King continued to paint and draw, encouraged by the staff to try and help alleviate his depression.  He became a familiar figure in the area as he sat painting scenes of houseboats or the hospital farm.  After the Blitz, Denis Daley Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, commissioned Edward King to paint the bomb damage to the city.  King went out each day, with an attendant and painted a series of over 30 scenes that graphically show the war torn state of the city.

Local writer Annie Kirby, put together a team of fourteen writers who were challenged to write and performed stories based on his artwork in the hope of promoting the artist and mental health problems.

More information and the stories can be found here:

https://www.writingedwardking.com/

I have worked with many of the writers before, but still I was in awe of the level of work they produced. And I thought I would share some images of the event.

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Edward King Project

So proud of the members of ‘The Writers at Lovedean’ who are doing their bit to raise awareness about #mentalhealth #EdwardKing

Edward King Stories at The New Theatre Royal.

Saturday 27th May

Times: 11am, 1pm, 4pm, 6pm

Location: Minghella Studio, New Theatre Royal, 20-24 Guidhall Walk, Portsmouth PO1 2DD

https://www.writingedwardking.com/project/new-theatre-royal-edward-king-stories/

Writing Workshop

Charlotte Comley with be running Children’s Story Writing Workshops at Portsmouth City Museum on the 31st May.

7- 12 year olds 10:30am – 12:30am

Children’s Story Writing Workshop (Free) ages 7-11, Charlotte Comley ***FULLY BOOKED***

12-16 year olds 1:30pm  – 3pm

Children’s Story Writing Workshop (age 12-16) (Free)

Pop Up Readings

Jackie Green

Sunday 28th May

9:30am Milton Piece Allotments, Locksway Road – next to produce shop

Margaret Jennings

Tuesday 30th May

10:15 Denmead All Saints Coffee Morning Garden, Hambledon Road, Denmead PO7 6NN

Jackie Green & Charlotte Comley

Thursday 1st June

10:15 Denmead All Saints Coffee Morning Garden, Hambledon Road, Denmead PO7 6NN

Charlotte Comley & Christine Lawrence – please note this is for students only

Date to be confirmed, week starting 5th June

Havant Six Form College

New Road, PO9 1QL

Radio

Charlotte Comley will be interviewed on Express FM on Wednesday 31st of May 5:30.

Drop – In Gallery Readings Portsmouth Museum

Project writers will be dropping in throughout the day to read their Edward King stories. This event is free.

Saturday 3rd June 2017

10am – 5pm

Portsmouth Museum, Museum Road, PO1 2LJ

PLEASE CHECK OUT OTHER EDWARD KING EVENTS

https://www.writingedwardking.com/about-us/

 

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Joanne Mallory Thunder Moon

In 2012 I was one of the Writers to Watch, a group who performed their work in Portsmouth and had their stories published in an anthology. It was a great experience, and I made some fabulous friends, including Joanne Mallory.

So I’m excited that Jo’s debut novel, Thunder Moon is going to be released on Amazon on Tuesday 17th January. I’ve already pre-ordered mine! I’ve heard a few chapters at The Writers at Lovedean, so it will be exciting to get a chance to read the full novel after all the editing advice Jo got from independent publisher Crooked Cat, and to see the work in its entirety.

Jo’s an incredibly talented writer when it comes to capturing a setting, and I know from the extracts I have rejoanne-mallory-thunder-moonad that she’s made the most of this skill and has used the local area as inspiration, especially Langstone.

I wish Jo luck, and I’m counting down the days until I can get my hands on this new magical romance!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thunder-Moon-Joanne-Mallory/dp/1540557499

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Baubles Book Launch

front-cover

Saturday 3rd of December was the book launch of Bridge House Publishing latest anthology. So few publishing houses are willing to invest in short stories, so I was especially delighted to be included in the ‘Baubles’ collection. The launch, held in London, and since I have just completed my Master’s degree, my lovely husband offered to take me to lunch in the city. We found a delightful pub called The Mudlarks near London Bridge and found a quiet corner. After a carb loaded meal to keep the cold out we ventured to a new part of London, Chalk Farm and off to the launch. Gill James is a fellow SCBWI member and is on the Words and Pictures team, so it was fantastic to meet a Facebook friend and colleague in the flesh.
It was a fun afternoon of networking with other authors, listening to readings and a surprising bit of marketing training from Gill’s daughter.
The Baubles anthology can be purchased:
Baubles via Amazon
If you are looking for a place to submit short stories, it is well worth taking a look at the Bridge House page: Brigde House Publishing

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