Archive for 2011

A good sesh

There were only 5 of us, but the four readings and feedback took nearly the whole two hours. It was good to be able to delve deeply.

The first session in 2012 is 5 Jan. Have a good Xmas and happy new year and all that jazz...

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So, our dastardly plan has worked, we know that because twelve people turned up on Thursday night, proving that absence makes the heart grow fonder eh? A great night ensued, there was so much good work read out, and Lily is back - Hurrah! That was a good night people.

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We taught us everything he knew!

Antony Wootten’s debut novel, A Tiger Too Many, is a dramatic and powerful page-turner for the 9-12 age range. Set in London Zoo during World War II, it is a tense tale of a young girl’s desperate struggle to save her beloved tiger-cub. Despite the traumas of air-raids and evacuation, and her older brother going missing in action, Jill never gives up, even when the zoo itself is bombed and she finds herself amongst the burning debris... called it “real edge-of-the-seat-stuff”.

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An unexpectedly good evening (most of the regulars had said they would not be able to make it, so I did not have high hopes).

I guess that I was the only member of that rarest of minorities, a Londoner (although, in my heart, I don't even think of myself as British); we had three women from the US, a S African dude and our resident Irishman.

Mary's novel is going from strength to strength, but thank god I managed to not like 2 sentences...

See y'all in a fortnight...

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That's the way to do it!

Yes, if you want to get lots of people to turn up, then just announce there will be wine available - simples.
Really good night, Clare and Mary read some more extracts from their excellent novels, Tim had a great new poem (that wasn't about foxes) we had a new member join us and Alistair turned up in the pub afterwards - result!

Don't forget we are meeting next week, with or without wine, and that Bilal will be at Willesden Green library on Monday at 7pm for a 'How to get Published' event with Gary Pulsifer from Arcadia Books and author Simon Acland.

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We are meeting twice a month now

From Nov we will meet in the library centre on the 1st and 3rd Thurs of every month.

The dates for the next 6mths are:

27 Oct
3 Nov
17 Nov
1 Dec
15 Dec
5 Jan
19 Jan
2 Feb
16 Feb
1 Mar
15 Mar
5 Apr
19 Apr

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No one came - except Steve

No one came, except Steve. We had a pleasant chat and left after 15 mins.

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It's dark out there!

We did indeed, as advertised, have an alfresco wgwg last night. A balmy night ensued but we discovered that it is really hard to read in a garden after it gets dark. We also learnt why it's called an Indian Summer and, oh yes, if I might mention it once more, that Jarred's got a story on Radio 4 this Sunday at 19.45.

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Al fresco tonight

To celebrate the good weather we will be meeting in the garden of The Rising Sun pub tonight at 8pm. The pub is two minutes from the library centre at 25 Harlesden Road - go down Grange Road (on the right hand side of the library centre) and turn right at the end of the road, the pub is now in sight on the left of Harlesden Rd. See you there!

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Good night

More new people came. A good evening, all in all. Mary's novel in progress is like biting into very a Fortnum's fruit cake, with a thin slice of stilton on top, washed down by a Laphroaig. More, more, more...

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Children's stories

Aside from Mary and me, there were no regulars (what is the plural of 'Judas'? Judi? If so, that's most of you...

I think that we need to consider making a rule about writing for children. I think that narrative stories without pictures are fine, but perhaps we need to make it clear that writing for very young children (say, under 8) is really not welcome at the group.


Now there are nine

What are the chances of two new people joining wgwg last night, both being called Ian? I don't know - what am I a maths genius? Anyway a very good night ensued with two excellent children's stories, a poem, a fantasy with an alarming amount of flaming resin (you had to be there) a very good mystery short story and the extremely promising start of a new book set in Korea. Then off down the pub. Perfect.

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And then there were five

So, at 8pm we appeared to have only one person who had anything to read out. Given that a new member had turned up, this looked to be embarrassing.

By 8.03pm I gave up and started downloading my manuscript on my phone to read out an excerpt. Desperation.

By 8.10pm another person turned up with something to read. It looked promising.

Miraculously, by 8.20pm we had 9 people and 5 readings set to go...

I love it when a plan comes together (after the Hannibal Smith).


August 11th

We are carrying on regardless tonight, so feel free to come and join us, we figure that after three days the rioters must be tired by now...

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28th July

Six people, three poems, two excerpts from books in progress, a fillip, a dollshouse and a murder. Then we went off to the pub, not a bad way to spend a summer evening - and not a doldrum in sight.

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A select group tonight of four. We heard two very good stories and then went home, I like to think of it as quality rather than quantity.

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30 June

A good but short evening. We listened to and gave feedback on all four pieces by 9.20pm.

Is it 'lasagna' or 'lasagne'?

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Someone old
Someone new
Someone talented
Someone... phew

I remember last year Anne or I would arrive for 8pm but people kept on drifting in til 8.20, which is when we would start. We seem to be back to punctuality, starting the readings a couple of minutes after 8. Which is good because it was a packed session.

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Not Jackanory

Ten people this week, two of whom were new to the group. We heard various pieces featuring amongst other things, child abuse, prostitutes and unicorns, beat that Jackanory.

Plus we had some very good poems from Steve, Lee and newbie Tim. In fact there was so much going on Bilal didn't get to read, which means he's on first next week - so don't be late.

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I really enjoyed Thursday night, I thought it might be a bit sparse with the Bank Holiday looming but no - eight people turned up. We heard some excellent poetry plus a piece in translation and some very good prose and then to top it all, Steve gave a virtuoso reading of his piece - you know the one, the one about the man who wakes up dead. He had everyone in stitches including himself and eventually had to give up reading because everyone was laughing too much. Nice one!

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Cakes and Ale

It was a good night - despite the room's lighting sensor going beserk and casting us into complete darkness - twice. A good turn out of eleven people and we heard some excellent poems, Jarred read another piece from his book in progress, three new people turned up and we got presented with free nibbles and cake in the pub afterwards. Result!

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Competition readings and prizegiving with Maggie Gee

Willesden Library Centre, April 7, 2011

The international Willesden Herald short story prize 2011. Introduced by Sam Taradash. Presented by actors Carrie Cohen, Sarah Le Fevre, Silas Hawkins and in Part 2 Elizabeth Bower. Thanks to Liars' League. Sponsored by Willesden Green Writers' Group.

Excerpts read by actors from Liars' League, followed by announcement of the results and prizegiving. Maggie Gee describes the judging process, comments on each of the finalists and announces the prizes for runners up and first place.

More pictures and links

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Attention citizens!

The group is happening this Thursday (21st) but we will not be meeting the week after on the 28th due to various jollifications, Bank Holidays, Bilal being unavailable and Anne taking herself off to Watford Film House to be on the box office and give out World Book Day books ( better late than never...)
We will be back bright eyed and bushy tailed on May 5th

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7th April

There will not be a Willesden Green Writers' Group meeting on Thursday April 7th instead we hope you will join us to celebrate the announcement of
The International Willesden Herald short story prize winners!

Join acclaimed author Maggie Gee for an evening to celebrate the short story and discover who has won the International Willesden Herald short story prize 2011. The Herald has also teamed up with Liars' League, a monthly fiction event where new short stories are read by professional actors, and tonight they have kindly agreed to read some of the entries to the Willesden Herald Short Story competition.

Supported by Willesden Green Writers' Group

We hope you can join us at Willesden Green Library

95 High Road, NW10

8 - 10pm

Admission is free

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St Patrick's Day

Next Thursday, March 17th is St Patrick's Day which means the entire library centre will be taken over by people celebrating. Yes, every room will be stuffed full of Irish jollifications which means that the group will not be meeting as usual, as there is nowhere left for us to meet!

Back on the 24th as usual.

Oh, and you should have been there last night - you missed two great poems from Lynsey and a good short story from Mary who took a night off from her Birkbeck course to come and see us.
Bon voyage to Aziza who is off to Bangladesh for a couple of months - hope to see you on your return.
And thanks to Carol for the chocolates...

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Yes, it's congratulations to our very own Carol French who last night was named the winner of the Brent Library Service Scandinavian Short Crime Fiction Competition. Indeed, it proved to be a very good evening all round. Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen gave an interesting talk about his writing and took questions from the audience and then presented Carol with her prize - and there was free wine throughout. Result!

Back as usual next week

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Thursday 3rd March

There is an event at Willesden Green Library on 3rd March, so wgwg will not be meeting that night. But all is not lost - why not come to the library anyway and meet award winning Norwegian author Gunnar Staalesen?
Gunnar will be presenting the winners of the Brent Library Scandinavian crime short story competition with their prizes and will also be reading from his new book. This is a free drop in event that starts at 7pm.

Good luck to all those wgwg members who have entered the competition!

Wgwg will be back as normal on March 10th.

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Short story competition results event

Willesden Green Library Centre
98 Willesden High Road, London NW10
8 pm - 10 pm, Thursday, 7 April

Join acclaimed author Maggie Gee for an evening to celebrate the short story and discover who has taken the one-off inscribed mug and first prize in the international Willesden Herald short story competition 2011, supported by Willesden Green Writers' Group. If the printers do their bit then copies of the anthology of the short-listed stories should be on hand. Refreshments will be provided.

Last year's winner Wena Poon went on to have her novel "Alex y Robert" serialised on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime for 10 nights and now for sale on the high streets everywhere from WH Smith. Jo Lloyd who won the previous year, her first ever win for her writing, went on to win the Asham Award in the same year for another story. The debut novel by previous winner Vanessa Gebbie is about to be published by Bloomsbury in the UK and the US. We're hoping to see Vanessa and many other friends at the event as well. Several of the writers have already confirmed they plan to be there on the night.


Facebook event page
About the 12 short-listed authors
Willesden Green Library Centre

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Come Along

Come along and support two of our own!

On Tuesday, 22nd February at 19:30

It's at Concrete Lower Ground Floor 56 Shoreditch High Street

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What Willesden Green writers group means to me

A friend asked me what the writing group is like this week, because he's joining a group himself. It got me thinking about what our writing group IS like. And I realised I'm really proud of it. God knows, I tried moving to a different county to get away and I still came crawling back.
Anyway. I first started coming to WGWG around 2002 when I'd just left university and was looking to 'keep my hand in' with writing. It was a funny little place then, run by the author of Henry's Cat, who was an absolute nutjob (can I say that?). He was always trying to make us do exercises and going on about the characters in James Bond. It was fucked up and uncomfortable. Yet still I kept going.
We went through a couple of facilitators after that, and it's mad to think they actually used to get paid, when we do it on a rota basis now (having said that, I haven't had a turn for a bit). But the library took away our funding, but let us keep the room. We're lucky to have that room, and who knows what will become of it once they knock the place down? Well, it will be rubble. And I bet won't get a new room. It's more a goodwill gesture than anything. We'll be resigned to the pub or someone's house. And that doesn't seem right.
The format of the writing group is simple. You simply bring along what you're working on (and ideally, copies) and read it out, for about five minutes (don't take the piss reading out half a novel, especially if it's set in Victorian times).
Then we give feedback. And you know what? The feedback we give is good. We don't soft-soap, we don't pussyfoot around, we are honest (too honest? no, honest) and we help each other become better writers. I've walked out of there in a strop more times than I can count. But they were right. I was being lazy that week. I hadn't thought that bit through very well. And I have had praise, massive praise, when I've deserved it.
The group is full of totally different people from all walks of life, all ages, all interests and writing styles. Some people drive you mad, some people you end up genuinely caring for. We have a laugh. I have good friends there, and there are some bloody good writers there. I'm one of them.
There have been dramas- I won't deny that. There was much negotiation of how to run the group between the former chair (me), secretary and treasurer. We had to bring in rules to get rid of various psychos, people who were just plain drunk, or people trying to push religious or political agendas. Or people who just came to show off and didn't want to listen or learn or help anyone else. There have been wrangles over the anthologies we've produced, but hours and hours of hard work have gone into them, and with great results (we won 5 grand!). There have been arguments, broken hearts, hurt feelings, abject boredom, drunken nights, several crushes and loads of laughs. And that's just me.
Oh, and lots and lots of crisps at the pub. LOTS.
I have conquered my fears and stood in front of a crowd and read from my poetry or novel at various events we've done. I have signed autographs, for fuck's sake! The writing group gave me a platform. A very small platform with virtually no one there, but was still good for me.
There can be no better incentive to write than a deadline, and that's what Thursday gives you, and writers need a deadline. And I'm a lazy bastard, I only go once every couple of months (because I live reasonably far away now, in part, but I'm also just slack).
If you're thinking of joining the writers group, do, come along and don't be scared. If I'd given up the first time (or the first 20) I'd never have seen my name printed at the top of a book, like a real writer. Lots of people seem to come once and disappear, and I don't blame them. It is hard to write, and to force yourself to write, and to go somewhere and read out your writing, and potentially be told what's wrong with it- that's hardcore. But it's worth it.

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Well done us!

Wgwg is on a roll - first we came a respectable third in the 'Save Kensal Rise Library' pub quiz benefit last night ( well do you know who wrote Goldilocks and the Three Bears...)
... and then we found out that Mary has been shortlisted for this competition

Whoop! Well done everyone, especially Mary.

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Fresh Blood and Old Friends

We like it when new people turn up, and tonight we had three newbies who were all brave enough to read out on their first visit, promising some interesting prose and poems for the future.

Plus a visit from Carol, who if memory serves, first came to wgwg about sixteen years ago. Her work just gets better and better, in fact one of our number wanted to take the short story she read out last night home with her to read again, yes it was that good!

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Brent Libraries short story competition

"Have you got what it takes to be the next Steig Larsson or Henning Mankell? If so there's a place on a Birkbeck College creative writing course up for grabs when you take part in the Brent Libraries short story competition. Swedish crime fiction author Camilla Ceder has written the opening lines. ... All you have to do is complete the story in no more than 2,000 words."

If you are interested go to click Brent Libraries short story competition for full details.

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Breaking News

On 19th January at the College of NW London in Willesden at 7pm there is a meeting about the fact the council want to knock down Willesden Green Library Centre in order to re-build it as a complex with space for social housing. The new complex is due to re-open in 2014. I don't know when the library is due to close but I'm guessing it must be fairly soon.

There are lots of questions to be answered, amongst them, why are they knocking down a building that received a £336500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as recently as 2006 in order to incorporate the Brent Museum into the building? They say they will replace the present library and incorporate it in the new building, but they said that about my local library in a new complex they have just opened in Northolt - and the 'new library' consists of about five bookcases of 'bestsellers' and virtually no non-fiction and one shelf of reference books - yes it's a library - but only just.

Where the wgwg will meet if/when the library is knocked down is something that we will need to think about - I am sure we will find somewhere but I also think we need to ask the council some questions about this decision to knock down a building that has has so much spent on it so recently!

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2011 up and running

Happy New Year to one and all.
Last night wgwg got back into the writing habit after all the Christmas and New Year madness with two excellent stories from Mary and Bilal. We then repaired to the pub to celebrate Bilal's birthday with a nice cup of tea - honest!

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