Charlotte features in Newbury Weekly News

January 28, 2012

There’s a lovely article in this week’s Newbury Weekly News about Charlotte, the most recent member of Wordwatchers to have publishing success. Timed nicely to coincide with the release of the paperback edition of The Apothecary’s Daughter which comes out on February 2nd (and is available, of course, from all good book shops!)

There’s a short article now online at NewburyToday, for those too far from Newbury to pick up a copy of the actual newspaper, available here.

If you’d like to meet Charlotte in person, she’s doing a book signing at Waterstones in Newbury on February 11th between 1100 and 1500.

Wordwatchers are of course, hoping she’ll be swamped with requests for signings, but we’ll be trickling through, during the day, to keep her company and offer moral support.

Note: Find The Apothecary’s Daughter on Amazon here: TAD (Paperback, Hardback and Kindle editions available)

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January 28, 2012

This is my blog, these are my thoughts (on the screen),
Held on the Internet (for the world, to be seen)

This is my blog, where I tell you my mind,
Then read through the comments, some good and some unkind

This is my blog, my alternate to writing,
It’s meant to entertain, perhaps be enlightening

This is my blog, I’m in hyperlink heaven,
But just six views today, will I reach seven?

This is my blog, you can read it on your phone,
And muse over coffee whether I am “in the zone”

This is my blog, my dedication to James Carter,
As you can see, a poet I am not, but this was just the starter!


James Carter is a wonderful and inspirational poet and has been “in residence” at Falkland’s Primary school for the last three weeks. Both my girls love him, so visit his website and as a parent nag your school to get James in, you won’t regret it.

James lives (in a virtual sense) here: James Carter Poet

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The Year of the Short Story

January 22, 2012

The only time I really get to read the newspaper these days is when I am preparing the fire, scanning each page before I scrumple it up and shove it into the woodburner.  Yesterday was such a day and it found me reading the Review section of the previous week’s Saturday Telegraph (a newspaper which typically only gets looked at for the big general knowledge crossword on the day it comes out, and then ignored until, as I say, it’s getting pushed into the fire).

So it was, sitting in front of the woodburner, poised, ready to scrunch, I learned that short stories are “the literary form for our times” and that we can find out how to write them by joining in with the Telegraph’s creative writing course, delivered as part of their Short Story Club.

I took a look and it seems there’s quite a lively forum developing.  Definitely worth checking it out… and the competition side of things allows you to submit a story a month.

Since Wordwatchers began over ten years ago, we’ve had a tradition for short stories, running two competitions every year.  2012 sees them going as strongly as ever, as John’s blog posting shows.  Let’s see what the year brings as we start sending some of the new batch out in to this brave new world of short story opportunity.

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I’m Done With Fine

January 22, 2012

I was out in the US last week with work and had the chance to go to a local music bar one evening.  We went to Antone’s, something of a legend in Austin, where a couple of bands were playing, the second of which was fronted by an old Muddy Waters cohort.  We stood there, having paid our $15, listening to some fine blues, drinking our Lone Star lager, watching this virtuoso blues guitarist with a rich gravelly voice deliver note-perfect song after song.

And then my friend, the local who’d suggested the venue, asked me what I thought.

I wrestled with my conscience for a few moments, nodding appreciatively as I sought the right response, and then told him they were actually causing me to question whether I still liked blues as much as I’d always thought, since they were clearly a very good band.  He smiled and suggested we go see what was happening at the Continental Club.

My immediate reaction was to think of the $15 we’d already paid to get in, and the half drunk can of Lone Star that was slowly warming in my hand, not to mention the fact it was a ‘school night’ and going somewhere else meant at least another couple of hours ‘investment’.

But we went, and it was great.  The band, fronted by fiddle man, Warren Hood, was in full swing (and Bluegrass) and suddenly I was alive.  The style of music was irrelevant; just like at Antone’s, these were performers at the top of their game in a small venue, but unlike the sterile set we’d just walked away from, these guys were clearly loving what they were doing – and their personalities shone large on the small stage and made for an infectious evening.

I called out ‘thank you’ to my friend, for rescuing our mediocre evening, and said, “The other place was fine.  But, you know what, I think I’m done with ‘fine’.”

And if you’re wondering why I’m writing this in a Wordwatchers blog, it’s because I’m currently on draft 3 of The Stationary Half of Goodbye, and with the words of a few good people lingering in my ears, telling me that draft 2 was fine and that I should be sending it to more agents, I can’t help thinking I have a much better answer for them now.

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And the winner is…

January 15, 2012


What is so particularly wonderful about this win is that Mel wrote her story about two hours before the deadline of our most recent short story competition.  Of course Mel now has absolutely no excuses for not writing as she can clearly knock out 2000 words of brilliant prose in less time than it takes to watch a film.

The January meeting was possibly one of our longest ever, but we did manage to cram in a meal (Multiple “Feasts” from the Jade Cottage in Thatcham), the announcement of the winners of the aforementioned short story competition, followed by the critiques and then all the normal stuff – confessions and promises.

There was also a lengthy discussion about Wordwatchers itself and what to do with our sudden and unusual position of being inundated by membership requests – we have a plan – of sorts – I think!  (Stay tuned all will be revealed once I’ve got it straight in my head)

So once again, congratulations to the now excuse free Mel for winning as well as a big thank-you for hosting the evening.  Well done to Julian for once again taking up his bridesmaid position and to Pam for coming third (jointly, as it turns out, with me!)

Also, well done to Debbie, our newest member who battled through after a 14 hour day to make it back from Windsor in time for food and the important bits of the meeting.  Also, to keep us on our toes, Debbie has also started re-writing her children’s book, as per her promise, giving the rest of us the kick up the backside we sometimes need when it comes to actually fulfilling our monthly promises.

Finally, with the help of the critiques I’ve already rewritten my short story in the hope of putting on a good show here: – it will be submitted once any additional feedback comes through from my fellow Wordwatchers.

I foresee that 2012 is going to be a very exciting time for Wordwatchers.  I can’t wait.

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Almost time again…

January 10, 2012

John Hoggard

Well, very unusually for Wordwatchers, our next meeting is on a Thursday.  Even more unusually, we’re combining the critiques of our most recent short story competition (“Identity”) with the announcement of the winner.  Normally, we’d hand in the stories, they’d be scored, we’d have a little get together, announce the winners and then, at a later meeting, critique all the stories.  Critiquing ‘blind’ is an interesting process since at this point I only have my suspicions of which of my fellow Wordwatchers has written which story.  I thought, with only six of us in the competition that guessing who had written which story would be accomplished with relative ease.  However, that has definitely not been the case – I knew I was doomed when I’d convinced myself that I’d definitely got Charlotte’s story picked out, before realising that Charlotte wasn’t even in the competition!

So, I’m really looking forward to Thursday, for lots of reasons: to see my Wordwatchers friends again, to find who wrote what, to find out who won and, most importantly, to find out the rest of the group thought of my story – because it’s the critique that makes you see what you didn’t want to see – the mistakes, the plot holes, the dodgy grammar, and it’s that, which helps hone my skills as a writer…

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