At the U3A meeting in Whittlesey yesterday I did a book signing session for my first book, The Railway Carriage Child. Over 100 members attended and the afternoon was a great success. I hope that is encouraging to all would-be writers who may be having doubts about stepping onto the public platform with their own creations
About two years ago I joined the local U3A Writing group as its third member. At my first meeting in Whittlesey’s Not Just Cafe, I was able to read a chapter from Wendy Fletcher’s autobiography. It was unfinished and hadn’t a title but it was for me a work of exceptional quality. Today the first-ever print copy was delivered to Wendy she brought it to the Writing Group (Whittlesey Wordsmiths) meeting opened the envelope and together with Wendy, we had the first sight of it.
This is the foreword
Against a backdrop of the Cambridgeshire fens, lies the
small market town of Whittlesey. Here are many features
of historical and architectural interest, including two
medieval churches, a 17th century Butter Cross and rare
examples of 18th century mud boundary walls.
Less well known, but still quite remarkable, are the pair of
Victorian railway carriages which stand just outside the
Originally built for Great Eastern Railways in 1887,
they have been home to Wendy’s family since 1935.
Now, for the first time, Wendy shares the fascinating
story of her childhood, growing up as a Railway Carriage
Child in the mid to late 20th century.
With a wonderful memory for detail, she paints a
picture so vivid that we are there with her.
Through the eyes of an exuberant child, whose
imagination outpaced her years, we meet the characters
central to her life: an ancient Granny, still governed by the
old fen traditions of an earlier era, a domineering Mother,
a long-suffering Father, and Grandfather who died before
her birth but still inspires her dreams.
With the humour of hindsight, Wendy brings alive a
time when life moved at a gentler pace.
The final chapter follows Wendy as she returns to live
in the carriages as an adult, continuing the renovation and
preservation, to ensure that they survive for another
Whittlesey Wordsmiths are proud to announce the publication and launch of their new book Where the Wild Winds Blow.
It is an eclectic collection of poetry and prose, outstandingly well written and superbly entertaining.
Where the Wild Winds Blow, can be bought through Amazon either in print or as an E-book If you are local to Whittlesey and would rather buy the book directly from the Wordsmiths please click on the “Where the Wild Winds Blow local orders” link to order.
This post is by Val Chapman a member of Whittlesey Wordsmiths.
I enjoy a lot of different subjects to read about, but if I had to choose, my preference is for psychological thrillers or crime novels, often the gorier the better.
Why is it then, that I have never even attempted to write one?
I know “they” say “write about what you know”, but to my knowledge, I’ve never murdered anyone, and wouldn’t know how to get away with it or solve it if I had, so how could I write a “murder mystery”?
My musings are almost exclusively in the ‘light and fluffy’ section.
I tend to write as I speak, so nothing too taxing there then!
Oh, wait, that may be a clue to the answer to my question!
I’ve never been keen on hard work….
I do admire those people who are committed enough to their craft to travel the country, if not the world, researching, checking, and researching again to make sure any writings are as plausible, and as factually correct as possible.
Maybe it’s because I just write for my own amusement, so I don’t need it to be too accurate or truthful. I just like to have a beginning, a middle, and hopefully an end. I tend to prefer my stories to make the reader say “ahh” instead of “huh?” when they’ve finished reading.
And that’s often how I tend to plan.
Start at the end.
If I have an idea where the story will end, I can plot how to get there.
And I like to be given an idea to work on. (See? Get someone else to do the thinking, -hard work-)
Left to my own devices, I’m not sure I would ever have started this very enjoyable hobby I now have.
Which is why I’m very grateful to all of the members of Whittlesey Wordsmiths. With their encouragement, I’ve really had fun exploring my imagination a bit, and have even started writing a little differently at times. Now, I don’t always have to find the ending first. Sometimes I’m even brave enough to just jump in and see where it takes me.
I even occasionally prefer to write rather than read.
Who knows, I might even ramble on enough to write a whole book!
I just need an idea……………..
Our book Where the Wild Winds Blow is in the garage having its final bit of tweaking. It is jacked up off the ground. Cathy and Wendy are wandering about underneath, attractively attired in nice white overalls with lead lights in their hands. Cathy pokes out rogue commas and semicolons with a very large screwdriver. Whilst Wendy has a big spanner in her hand tightening up any loose phrases or sentences dangling underneath. Very soon we will have the sleek new cover fitted and be ready for the off.
Stephen Oliver is making progress with his novel and anthologies, Stuart Roberts with his next book. Cathy Cade, Val Chapman and Val Fish have contributed to the 81 word challenge, I suspect other members have too but don’t know yet. Going on past form Val Fish has probably got entries in the limerick competition.
The Whittlesey Word Forge is ringing with the sound of writing being hammered into shape.
Wendy has asked me to write a piece about our writing as a group.
At our last meeting Whittlesey Wordsmiths discussed writing, not just the generalities of it but how we each approached the task. In the past, two of our members explained their different working methods one was able to work while the television was on and manage with the distraction, another needed complete silence. Some members work best at night, others early in the morning.
Personally, I prefer relative quiet, either at home, early or late in the day, during the day at a library or even as yesterday in a pub. Breakfast at a Wetherspoons, a large empty table my small laptop/tablet computer with free coffee top-ups, while my car was at the garage.
We discussed also the acquiring of ideas, the overheard phrase or sentence, an ending to a story then filling in the events leading up to that finale. At least one of our number describes himself as Pantster, “flying by the seat of his pants”, writing down the thoughts as they form in his mind. Judging by his output it works very well for him. Within our group we are fortunate in having a diverse pool of talented writers. Our work in progress; “Where the Wild Winds Blow”, is nearing completion and showcases this talent.
Every one of us works differently. Each has their own way of finding inspiration, a method of working, marshalling thoughts as they are turned into the written word. My own stories are shown to me as a video played out in my mind, whilst I try valiantly to record the unfolding events. Later I return to rewind, stop, pause and touch up the pictures. Adding in the barely seen detail, amplifying the quiet words or thoughts of the actors. As the rough chapters increase to become what will hopefully be my novel, it has become essential to make a chronological plan. The events need to have a semblance of order. Cycle rides and walks help me add flesh to the bones of ideas and concepts. Clarifying and touching up the parts of the pictures that need it.
As my novel is set mainly in Cambridge, trips to the city have been necessary to clarify memories, to fill in the gaps left unseen in maps and on Google. Walking the route a character takes in the plot, enables it to seen, as it appears to that character, a touching up of the detail in the video.
In 2017 the U3A hosted a one day writing course in Ramsey. Alison Bruce a talented Cambridge based crime fiction author ran the course.
I enjoyed the day immensely and was disappointed that I was unable to attend a recent talk by Alison at Whittlesey Library, hopefully I will have better luck next time.
Whilst at Ramsey I bought a copy of Alison’s first novel Cambridge Blue. As with so much in life it often takes me a while to do something, reading Cambridge Blue was a case in point, I should have read it sooner.
The story set in and around Cambridge, is gripping and convoluted crime fiction with a satisfactory conclusion, it is for me flawless. Cambridge, parts of it certainly, are more familiar to me than many places, so I was able to relate to the locations described so well in the book. Cambridge Blue introduces a young detective Gary Goodhew, tackling his first murder case. He is a likable hero who we will no doubt get to know even better in future novels. The characters are believable, well observed and well drawn.
I have bought the second in the series, Siren so am certainly game for more from this talented author.