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Writing? -- Susan Price

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      Not many people get beyond this gate. But go on, you can come in.   Have a seat by the pond. There is water down there, somewhere, below the poppies. The birds and insects find it.    This fox-glove (below) self-seeded and started off quite modestly. Then it grew and grew and kept on growing, into a mighty tower of flower. It must like its position, on the shady side of the potted plum tree, because it's now two and half metres tall (eight feet).      It has been a great amusement to stand and watch the bumblebees work their way up this tower. They arrive in twos and threes and go from one flower to another. They vanish inside, but if you stoop and peer into the flower yourself, you see them working their way right to the back, with little scrambling legs. After a second or two, they reverse out and jump up, or sideways, to the next flower and repeat. Then away on their wings. Trouble is, they often head into our home-made greenhouse, AKA The Polythene Palace, which is

Watering the Garden. Lorraine Smith

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Authentic Pilgrims by Joy Margetts

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 This week my books arrive from the printers. I am waiting in eager anticipation to open that box, redolent with the scent of newly printed paper. Longing to handle the weight of the book, to hear the pleasing creak of the spine as I flip through the crisp white pages. And to see the cover in all of its resplendent glory. I have had an image of the cover in a computer file for months, and it is stunning. Everyone who has seen it has remarked so. I am really very pleased with the design, and am eagerly anticipating what it will look like ‘in the flesh’. Will the colours be as vivid as I hope, will it stand out in a crowd, will it draw the eyes of potential readers, look good on the shelf of a bookstore? This particular cover was a collaborative effort. My cover designer had worked on the first book and so certain features were repeated for this, the second. The font, the stunning illuminated capital, and the off-white torn top section that represented the vellum used by medieval monks

"Encouragement for Writers..." -- Mari Howard

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  Imagine: We are at a party – the grown up sort, colloquially, sometimes referred to as a ‘stand up and shout’. Maybe it is a party for our school graduation year, now many moons away… whatever, it is a party for educated professionals and their (present) partners, so some degree of an embarrassing questions may be expected. ‘As a writer’ (and probably in the company now of many others who have published books) the questions you ’ re asked  might go like this: From a friend who kept in touch in our forties, when we each began doing stuff we had wanted to, but hadn’t’ yet because of   family commitments: ‘And are   you still writing?’ Well now… what does this question really mean?   Is it ‘ Are you still plodding on with that first novel of yours, now at page 1,047, yet nowhere near finished and with no hope of publication or the Booker Prize?’ Or, ‘I suppose you keep trying to interest a publisher, but those rejection letters just keep coming through your door? ’ Or possibly, (soundin

Gussage All Saints and Ravel's Bolero by Sandra Horn

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Earlier this month, I fulfilled a long-held ambition. I visited Gussage All Saints! Not only that, we stayed overnight in the delightful community-run pub, The Drovers. Gussage all Saints…along with Nately Scours and Nether Wallop, some of my favourite mad place-names. It was a fluke that we were there at all – it was a Crick Crack Club night at the Earth House in Cranborne and we are in the indulgent habit of staying overnight in or close to the village afterwards so we don’t have the drive home late that night.   It’s getting more and more difficult nowadays to find anywhere taking a one-night (Saturday) booking through the season, and The Drovers was the only place in the whole South of England (according to my husband) we could have. It was away from Cranborne a bit and down narrow unlit lanes, but absolutely worth it. There was an evening of brilliant story-telling round the fire. The final storytellers used a Japanese ritual – as a story ended, they each picked up a candle, fac

Writing Workshops by Allison Symes

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 Image Credit:  Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. I love writing workshops. I’ve learned so much from them and now I’m running my own (flash fiction, the ups and downs of being a writer etc). I like workshops which give me plenty to think about and  exercises I can polish up at home. I want to be “doing” as well as listening. Knowing what I like has helped me tailor my workshops. I think good old-fashioned pen and paper still has a valuable role to play. This shows up best at a writing workshop. No worries about whether your PC battery will die halfway through the workshop. No worries about whether there will be enough charging points for said PC to avoid that. You just pick up a pen and jot down points of interest. Okay, there is a dilemma to be faced with pen and paper. Just which notebook will I use? Which pen to go with it? Is there any writer who doesn’t have a surfeit of notebooks and pens? When I worked in Winchester many moons ago, I avoided going past Papercha

A poetic interlude, by Elizabeth Kay

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As I shall be in hospital on the 17th (again!) I didn't feel up to a long post, so I thought I would simply paste a few poems in.  Inside the Powder Room, at last.  You’re in, through the wedged- open door, gritting your teeth, minding the pees and queues.   And then, suddenly, they don’t matter -- not any more. It’s one of those Ladies’ moments. The snake of people inside is as out of order as the plumbing, curled in on itself like intestines. You start by talking floor area, cubicles, urinals, male architects.   You could be any vintage, from geezer bird to hot flush to blue rinse.   As you wait, the temperature rises.   Now you’re privy to period pains, polyps, Prozac, uncooperative partners, ungrateful progeny, quashed ambitions, quick abortions, quiet affairs -   but no hot air, no soft soap, no flannel – you’re dishing your own dirt, relieving yourselves of skeletons you won’t be revealing outside.   The teenager with the tattoo is in the cl