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Writing news

Shakespeare Street launch party!

Shakespeare Street was officially launched on Tuesday at a party in Amersham’s Cafe Africa. In the photo (taken by Angela’s husband Keith) we are all saying ‘sausages’ I think, and it includes all but one of the members of Just Write: Richard Hopgood was excused on the grounds of having moved to Gloucestershire… Back row, left to right: Cathy Salmon, Bob Gasking, Graham Blundell, Phil Tysoe, Chris Payne, Angela Haward (whose husband Keith took the photo), Vicky Trelinska. Middle row, left to right: Emma Darke, Chas Burton, Stuart Tennant, Carol Hall, Debbie Hunter, Liz Losty. Front row: Nikki Kelland, Lesley Close, Linda Cohen. But the star of each row is our gorgeous new book!

Lots of guests bought copies of the book, getting our fundraising for the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted off to a flying start. Bob Gasking, an ambassador for the Hospice, spoke about the need to raise funds and the need to raise awareness of just how little of the Hospice’s funding comes form the NHS (19% and falling).

Bob’s ‘boss’, Cathy Salmon, the Hospice’s Head of Communications, said a few spontaneous words after Bob, and we were delighted that she was able to join us.

We were also delighted to see Mimi Harker, ex-Chair of Chiltern District Council, and to hear her say such kind things about Just Write. Her comments echoed and amplified her words which introduce the stories. She isn’t in the photo as she was busy taking her own photos – and organising us to look this good!

We were very glad that Chas Burton, illustrator, and Graham Blundell, typesetter, were also able to join the fun. Working with Stuart, they have produced a book which is so much more than the sum of its parts.

It was lovely to see Victoria Rodden at the party: she gave us such a lot of food for thought at a recent Monday-night meeting. She isn’t in the photo either…

Finally, two people whose contributions made a huge difference to the book could not join us: Janet Mears is a proofreader extraordinaire, and Melissa Scott-Miller allowed us to use two of her paintings of north London Georgian houses. You were both much-missed.

Writing news

New book from Just Write!

“Just Write launch their third book of short stories at a star-studded reception in a glamorous local venue” – the newspaper headline of our dreams!

In reality, we will launch Shakespeare Street in Amersham’s lovely Cafe Africa with as many guests as the venue will hold. The book is available from our dedicated website, shakespearestreet.org.uk as well as at many Christmas events in the Chilterns. As with our last two books, we are delighted that Waterstones in Amersham will have copies on their shelves.

Writing news

Nicki’s success!

Nicki Kelland, one of the two members who joined JW this time last year (the other was Carol Hall), has had a story published. It’s in the Dark Gathering anthology of tales of horror and mystery published on 5th October by Swansea and District Writers’ Circle. She was a runner-up in their last contest and the prize was publication of a suitable story in this book.

Well done, Nicki!

Writing news

Coming soon to a reading device near you!

The Painting – 48 hours to turn back time

Twelve authors, twelve stories, and 48 hours to write a story backwards in time. Intrigued?

Following the first writer’s lead, each author had 48 hours and 500 words to take the story behind The Painting back in time. We will publish them as they were written, every 48 hours, so keep visiting this website for new episodes!

To make sure you don’t miss one, follow us on Facebook Just Write Amersham or fly along to Twitter Just_Write_Ink

The first episode is coming soon, then you’ll have to wait 48 hours between episodes… Watch this space!

Writing news

Both books on Waterstones shelf!

In a fantastic development, Waterstones now have both Spilling the Beans and Delayed Reaction on their main shelf of short stories as well as by the till. Don’t they look wonderful? The shelf-edge flag says ‘Spilling the Beans An award-winning collection of short stories by an Amersham writing group’ We must get some stickers made for Delayed Reaction so they can make a sign for that book too!

Writing news

Just Write session with Chiltern Writers

On 10th March Just Write (JW) gave their first talk as a group to members of the Wendover-based group Chiltern Writers (CW). Two members of JW are also members of CW, so this was no co-incidence!

Lesley and Angela did most of the talking with Stuart explaining his role, the production and printing of the group’s two books Spilling the Beans and Delayed Reaction. Linda read the same extract from her Spilling the Beans story Freddolatte that Nick Coffer had enjoyed so much on BBC Three Counties Radio just over a week earlier, and Phil read from his Delayed Reaction story Connection. Angela read from her Delayed Reaction story Run Rabbit Run and Lesley followed up with the same scene from Debbie’s perspective, as told in I’ll be there. (Debbie was absent at a family wedding…)

Angela had created an exercise to give CW members an idea of the decisions JW had to make when writing the books. The CW members came up with some really great scenarios and characters. JW took part in their own exercise but their idea wasn’t as good as some the others came up with: does it count as plagiarism if you just pinch the germ of the idea? Only joking!

Nicki also attended, flitting between audience and the JW table for the exercise and taking notes during the Q&A session afterwards. JW thoroughly enjoyed the evening and, judging by comments received at the time and the Tweets posted afterwards, CW members also enjoyed it. Thank you very much for inviting us to speak.

The photo, taken by the camera-shy Phil, shows Stuart being diverted from concentrating on what he will say later, Angela discovering the joys of Programme Organiser Debbie Clarke’s delicious vegan, gluten-free cake, Lesley nervously grinning like a Cheshire cat (as always) and Linda being her usual sensible smiling self.

Writing news

World book day: what’s your favourite?

If there’s something that unites all of us here at Just Write (other than writing, obviously) then it’s a love of books. So, as it’s World Book Day, we thought we’d share a few of our favourites.

I should stress that this really is just a few our favourites: there were enough suggestions to fill several posts!

Lesley currently recommends “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton. She loved it and found it utterly gripping in its vivid portrait of life in The Netherlands in the 17th century. However, Lesley was at pains to point out that pinning down her favourite book was a near impossible task and it will almost certainly have changed by next month.

Linda is a big fan of David Nicholls for his capacity to write beautifully about relationships and included both “One Day” and “Us” amongst her choices. She also picked out Elizabeth Noble’s “Things I Want My Daughters To Know”: a dying mother leaving letters for her daughters, written from the heart with great, believable characters.

Emma’s favourite book at the moment is “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion, just because it’s the funniest thing she’s ever read…

…whereas Nicki’s go-to funny book is Kingsley Amis’s “Lucky Jim”. However, her all time favourites amongst a list that spanned Susan Cooper, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, and Simon Hawke, are “The Moonstone” and “The Woman In White” by Wilkie Collins. Great villains and unexpected twists.

Phil (who doesn’t usually write himself in the third person) is a big, big fan of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey. It’s obviously a fine film as well but favourite movies is a whole different post. The last book he read was “By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept” by Elizabeth Smart. Published in 1945, it’s a sublime piece of prose poetry which uses extraordinary language and imagery to conjure a hugely evocative expression of falling in love.

Angela also struggled to pick out a single book. However, as sagas with plenty of romance go, she couldn’t top “Gone With The Wind”Margaret Mitchell’s tour de force. Scarlett O’Hara is the ultimate flawed heroine and Rhett Butler is the irresistably attractive villain. Mitchell paints the vast panorama of the American Civil War with a broad brush, but still manages to define the impact it had on the diverse lives of her characters. Angela also had special mention for “Wuthering Heights” and Bronte’s masterly uses of the forces of nature to illustrate her themes.

Chris flew the flag for Canada with two Margaret Atwood books: “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Cat’s Eye”. The former offers a glimpse of dystopia that feels easier and easier to imagine happening as society automates and individuals lose control. She also picked out Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History”, with a slight sense of awe that it was her first book, as her favourite novel. The horror of the story and the psychological games involved stay with the reader for a long time after the final page turns.

One of Carol’s favourite recent reads is “Elizabeth Is Missing” by Emma Healey.  It is a beautifully written, deeply touching debut novel about an old lady with dementia trying to make sense of the world. She also loved “The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters – completely unputdownable. But her all time favourite book is “Tess of the D’Urbevilles” by Thomas Hardy which she first read when she was sixteen. She cried for a week afterwards.

And finally Liz picked out a really broad range of her favourites, including a number of classics from Dickens, Twain and Joyce. She loves “What Katy Did” by Susan Collidge because Katy was a tomboy, as was she! Conan Doyle’s plotting is wonderfully clever in “A Study In Scarlet”, Wodehouse makes her laugh out loud in “The Code Of The Woosters”, and Ian McEwan’s tangled web in “Atonement” is heartbreaking. And then there was De Maurier’s “Rebecca” and Sebastian Faulks’ “Birdsong” and…

…and we really, really love books and could go on for hours. Not just on World Book Day.

Hope you find something here that inspires you. We’d love to be inspired by what you’ve read recently. What are your favourites?

Writing news

Just Write on the radio

Linda and Lesley were invited to BBC Three Counties Radio in Dunstable to talk to Nick Coffer about the success of Just Write. Linda read an extract from her story Freddolatte and was almost signed up on the spot by the presenter! The two women thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and Nick was a very good interviewer. Lesley knew in advance that there would be 60,000 listeners but didn’t tell Linda until afterwards – what did the audience make of it? Your comments are very welcome…

Listen to the interview  

 

 

 

Writing news

How to buy one of our books…

 

Since we started writing collaboratively in 2013, Just Write has published three books of short stories.

Our first, Spilling the Beans, won Writing Magazine‘s Anthology competition for books published in 2014.

Our second, Delayed Reaction, was a runner-up in the same competition for books published in 2015!

Our third book, Shakespeare Street, will be published in mid-November 2017.

To buy any of these books, go to their websites using the links above. If you want to buy more than one copy, please email lesley@justwrite.ink for a combined shipping price (and a big thank you!)