A nifty bit of footwork

‘ve mentioned I have a new project about to come to fruition – an anthology of work from two writing friends and me which, we hope, will soon be available!! Exciting!! It has been a busy year; in April I published ‘Earthquake’, my most recent Radwinter story (I’m working on the next which may arrive before Christmas, but is more likely to appear in January) and I also published my little writing guide ‘So You Want To Write’. As well as that this year I have been very involved with my writing groups, leading and being part of, and have had lots of exciting things in my own life, not least a six-week trip to Tasmania, and my daughter coming back to live at home after five years away!!

For some reason I thought I had also published a book which I first started writing about ten years ago or more, Lucky Portbraddon. However, that was just over a yea ago, September 2016! The idea for the Portbraddon story went back much further, had been in my mind for many years, and was inspired by – but definitely not based on, two strands of inspiration:

  • bands – having loved rock music just about all my life, and having seen at close quarters what it’s like to be in a band (my husband has been a drummer and in bands since he was about fourteen) I was fascinated by the dynamic in such groups. There is a closeness because of playing music together, rehearsing and live, and for some bands who go on the road sometimes for months at a time, there is an extra bond. However there are fall-outs and splits, and people leaving and new people arriving
  • family – I am so fortunate to be part of a great, loving and faithful family, and i must say here that the Portraddons are not remotely like my own cousins and are not based on them in any way except one – the one way that there is a similarity is the loyalty a family feel, a bond which can never be broken even if the family is broken. With my fictional Portbraddons there are major upheavals and betrayals, but even so at the end, as they constantly say ‘family is family’ and ‘family first’.

Here is an extract from Lucky Portbraddon. Ismene was the girlfriend and, she hope, fiancée to be, of one of the cousins. She went to meet the rest of the family and to spend Christmas with them in their grandma’s large but isolated  house up on the moors. They were snowed in for several days during which time Isméne’s boyfriend decided he didn’t love her and as soon as escape was possible he left to return to town.

In the following extract, Isméne has been brought home to her flat by a cousin, Nick; he is also giving a lift to his nephew, Noah, who is shy and awkward and always seems on the outside of everything. An unexpected reception awaits  Isméne.

They got out of Nick’s rickety car, stepping into slush. The night was damp and had a fusty town smell after the clear air up on the tops. The thaw had set in but there were still mounds of snow, semi-frozen piles of mush, speckled with dirty grey and black.
Noah stayed in the back and she waved at him through the side window; he managed a weak smile but looked away shiftily.
“You will stay in touch, won’t you Ismène?” Nick asked as she keyed in the code on the security pad.
“I sure will, as long as you want me to,” she held the door with her shoulder so he could come in with her bags.
He made a facetious response and she replied with a joke but she had the tiniest suspicion that Nick might want to do a little more than flirt. He was lovely but she had not the slightest interest in him even if she’d wanted another relationship.
Someone grabbed her and shoved her to the floor and a man jumped at Nick and began hitting him in the face. Nick was unable to defend himself, encumbered by her bags.
Ismène jumped up and grabbed the attacker’s arm, he spun round and it was Jaco.
“You leave her alone, you bastard, she’s my wife!” Jaco bellowed and shoved her aside to continue his attack on Nick.
Ismène tumbled backwards, falling over one of her bags, and sprawled across the floor again – And then there was a figure in black between Nick and Jaco. It was Noah and he grabbed Jaco, punched him straight in the face, before pushing him out of the door. He hurled him down the couple of steps then stood blocking the doorway.
“Fuck off shithead!” he bellowed.
Nick was on his knees, blood streaming through his fingers cupped over his face and Ismène tried to get him upright, appalled by the sudden violence.
“I’m so sorry, Nick, I’m really sorry.”
“What are you apologising for?” Nick staggered as if dizzy.
He called a muffled thank you to Noah, who cast a baleful look over his shoulder and went out, the door banging shut behind him.
Nick was wiping his arm on his sleeve, his moustache and beard a gory mess. The light in the hall was garish, Nick’s face was grey and he was certainly in pain. There were splashes of blood on the blue and green floor tiles, as if the seascape they showed had been the place of a dreadful battle.
“I didn’t realise he knew where I lived – I guess he thought you were James.”
She gathered her bags and other things, and hoping Noah was safe, she pushed Nick to the lift.  It pinged open and they hurried into its apple-scented interior.
“Long time since I’ve been in a fight,” Nick looked at himself in the mirror, touching his nose experimentally. “I don’t think it’s broken.”
“Well, it wasn’t really a fight. He hit you then Noah threw him out.”
“Oh, that’s right, spoil my moment of fantasy! In my mind I decked him with a quick one-two and some nifty footwork!”
As they stepped out of the lift Ismène’s neighbour was waiting; he cast a horrified look at Nick and hurried down the corridor to the stairs.

I hope you are intrigued and want to find out more! here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LUCKY-PORTBRADDON-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B01LWTVURP/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-6&keywords=lois+elsden

… and here are links to my other books I mentioned:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-4&keywords=lois+elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Want-Write-Telling-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B074W19JK3/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-3&keywords=lois+elsden

It’s all in the cards

As well as writing my present novel, I seem to have lots of other ideas buzzing around… in fact I’m finding it hard to settle to one thing! Maybe it’s because we are in a bit of a turmoil at home with rearranging the house for various reasons, and trying to fit a gallon into a pint pot, but I’m struggling to focus on my writing – doing lots of it but not in a focused way. I guess when life calms down. so will writing!

One of my ideas which I brushed on a couple of days ago  was with a fortune-telling thread – a little like runes, a little like tarot, a little like horoscopes, but with something I had made up – so therefore would have authorial control over!! I had come across a list of twenty-six things which I had seen as a pattern somewhere, a tusked creature, a concentric squirl, a fork… and I imagined someone telling fortunes – or being guided by them on a daily basis.

So that was one idea… but then as I was doing that, someone was sharing images on Instagram from a set of cards and a written guide-book on ‘spirit animals’ and using the set as an oracle. There are forty-four oracle cards in this set (I know because I have actually purchased them) and there are different ways of using them – drawing a card each day, or taking three cards  and ‘reading’ them as past today and future, or using them as a guide to a problem or a relationship… or whatever…

I could imagine as a writer, taking a card each day and writing to that card – or rune – or one of my list of twenty-six, and having a continual story-line, but the narrative is guided by the random selection of card/rune/object… Supposing I used this for the National Novel Writing Month challenge? I don’t mean that the subject or characters would be mystical or magical, they would be ordinary people in changing situations… would that work? Could that work?

So… just to practice…

  • the card I randomly picked – a rattlesnake… the experiences that you’re presently going through are an initiation into fulfilling your purpose as a healer…

well… that does take some thinking about! I will write to that and share (in the accompanying book there is a little explanation of that!

  • the rune I randomly took – is ingwaz the rune of harmony
  • the item on my list – the seated man

So should I combine these three? Write about each separately? Do something completely different in a creative way? I will let you know…

Checklist 2 – how to self-publish on Amazon

As I’ve mentioned, a friend and I have picked up the challenge to try and write blogs on seventy-three different subjects. I am just working my way down the list, he is picking his topics at random. Yesterday I wrote about checklists; I produced a checklist for self-editing a book, forgetting completely that I had written about self-editing in another of the 73! Doh!!

So, to be fair, I am going to write about another checklist, this time I am writing about how to self-publish on Amazon

  • set up an Amazon account – this is easy, at the bottom of the Amazon page, under ‘Make money with us’, is a link ‘independently publish with us’
  • you should arrive at a page titled ‘bookshelf’ and there is a box which says ‘create a new book’ with a choice of paperback or kindle – choose which you want (you can always do the other one later!)
  • I am going to follow the set-up for a paperback, but it is equally easy to set-up for Kindle
  • You will be taken to a page where you enter the details
  • Language – the language you are publishing in…  I publish in English but there are plenty of languages to choose from
  • Title and subtitle – you write in your title, if you have a sub-title put that in its own box, if you don’t have a subtitle leave it blank
  • Series – if you think you might write a series, put in the title of the whole series – for example for my Radwinter series I put ‘Radwinter’ and then the volume number and the volume title
  • if you are doing this for the first time where the next box asks for edition number, it will be 1. If you edit or revise your text, then it will be a subsequent number
  • The next box is for author – and that is you; if you are writing with a different name, put your writing name in here
  • under that is another box for contributors – and there is a drop down menu which includes such things as ‘editor’, illustrator’, etc. I am shortly going to publish an anthology with two friends, so their names go in there and they are both credited as ‘author’. You can add as many people as you like
  • the next text box is for a description – this is what the prospective reader will see when s/he comes across your masterpiece on Amazon. You want to make it as intriguing and interesting as possible!
  • the next check is for copyright and publishing rights – tick as appropriate (there are helpful explanations if you’re not sure!)
  • Next you have to think of seven words or phrases to describe your potential best-seller. For our anthology to be we used: poem, short story, creative non-fiction, polemic, geology, science fiction, euphoric writing
  • The next choice is of category, and there is an impressive selection to choose from – you can choose two – these are things like fiction/non-fiction/poetry etc
  • The last question on this first page ass if you have ever used CreateSpace… I haven’t so I didn’t have to answer any further questions
  • The next page continues first of all by checking if you need an ISBN number; Amazon will assign you one if you don’t have your own already
  • Then you can if you wish, set your own publication date
  • for a paperback you have a choice of type of paper, cover and size
  • You then upload your manuscript – it is as easy as attaching a document to an email; it may take some time if it is a very long book! When I say some time, I mean time in minutes not hours! Enough time to make a cup of tea.
  • Once you have manuscript uploaded then you can design your cover – if you already have one, upload that (I’ve not done this, I have just used Amazon’s own formats) This is quite tricky – not in the doing of it, but in the choosing of the right style, colours, pictures, the etc – trying to make sue you have got it right!!
  • The next step is to preview it, where you have a virtual book on the screen in front of you and you are able to edit and adjust… If you change your manuscript, you have to upload it again, but that is no problem
  • The last page you have to do is to decide on price, publication details, various admin details… it is very straightforward, and there are drop-down boxes explaining and guiding you all the way.
  • Good luck!!

Maybe this is not so much a check-list as a guide… well, whatever it is, I hope it is helpful!

Here are my books self-published on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_6?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C419&crid=1RW9VEPBQPRLE

and a direct link to my Radwinter series, including the first paperback (more to follow!)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1507662328&sr=8-5&keywords=lois+elsden

Gus has a fresh start…

For a while I have had a character without a story… I’m not sure exactly what his story is yet, but having written about him wandering aimlessly around his village, and taking walks along the beach and round the estuary, he now is connecting with people:

“Hey!” and someone tapped Gus on the shoulder.

It almost made him jump, and he afterwards thought it was the first time anyone had touched him at all for months.

He turned to see a woman who looked familiar beaming at him.

“Hey, Gus! You were so deep in thought, I’ve been shouting at you from across the road!”

He apologised and she laughed in a friendly way but he still couldn’t quite place her… she was, he guessed, maybe thirties, maybe forties, very smiley, dark brows maybe dark  hair but she was wearing a multi-coloured striped knitted hat pulled down round her face. She said she was going to the paper shop, and he obviously was as he had his foot on the bottom step so they went in together, he holding the door for her.

She had run out of milk, she said, he told her he was getting his newspaper… he got it every morning, a little routine he had developed to get out of the house, to try to meet people… and now he had met someone and he had no clue who she was, although she did look familiar…

She had mentioned milk, and when she opened the chill cabinet and took out a two pint bottle he said he needed milk too, and he picked up a pint… no point in getting more, it usually went off before he could dink it all… maybe he should start having cereal…

“Good morning, sir, how are you today?” it was a friendly little gnome of a man who always asked him how he was and then in return told Gus how he was. On this occasion, as Gus and the woman with the stripy hat stood in the short queue, the gnome didn’t list his own ailments but began to… well, to interrogate Gus. “I take it you’re not a holiday maker, sir, I’ve been seeing you every day for a month or more!”

“Um, no, I’ve moved here, moved in three months ago actually…”

The gnome told him he had been here twenty years – had moved here when he retired, it had been a dream to come here as he had visited every summer for a week’s holiday as a child.

“I didn’t realise you were a newcomer,” said the woman with the stripy hat. “I used to live in town but it’s only since I’ve moved into the village that I’ve been a regular at the quiz.”

The quiz! The pub quiz! She was not only one of the people whose team he had joined a couple of weeks ago, but she was one of the people who had rescued him from the mud!

He felt a little foolish, but as the gnome was now quizzing him further about where he had come from and where he was living, he hoped he concealed it. Fortunately an elderly lady had greeted the little man from the other side of the freezer and he was telling her about his appointment at Specsavers.

Gus tried to think of something to say to the woman in the hat… did he know her name? Had he forgotten that too? Since he had begun his solitary life his memory was shocking. He cast round for something to say, anything…

“Have you tried this apple cake?” he asked her desperately, pointing to ‘Granny Gibbon’s apple cake, locally made from local apples… and eggs!’ The label said.

The lady looked a little startled at the random question and gave him what seemed to be a saucy look, as if she guessed he was trying to make conversation. No, she hadn’t… she loved baking and made her own… there seemed to be a pause at the end of her comment, and for a silly moment Gus wondered if she was going to suggest something… drop round for a coffee, try my cake… But of course she wasn’t, and he felt an embarrassed blush of misery creeping across his face.

Then he was at the counter and paid for his milk and nearly forgot the newspaper until the man behind the counter, Bill, apparently told him to pick one up on the way out. He was trapped beside the elderly lady who talking to the gnome; she hadn’t seemed particularly big when she was on the other side of the freezer, but how he was trying to get down this side he realised she was… well, she was enormous from the waist down, and also had a pile of shopping bags around her ankles.

“Oh heck,” said the quiz team member behind him. “Ready about.”

This proved more difficult as the gnome was still at the counter talking to Bill.

“Bill’s been here since he retired,” the gnome announced.

“Yerp… left the old woman, told the boss to stick his boss, moved here, new beginning…”

“Excuse me, can we just squeeze past you…” and the hat woman actually put her arms round the gnome and moved him to one side, which amused him and amused Bill more.

The shop door was in sight but a woman negotiated her double buggy in blocking their way. Gus would have huddled against the magazine racks and waited in quiet irritation until his exit was clear, but the woman in the hat wasn’t having any of it.

“Excuse me, if you could just reverse so we can get out, and then you can come through this way!” she commanded in a firm but friendly voice.

The double buggy pusher wasn’t best pleased as Gus’s gran might have said, but she grumbled her way back out and Gus and the woman in the hat made it onto the steps to the shop… His gran… he hadn’t thought about gran for a long time…

He tried to think of something to say, some jovial remark, a see you next quiz sort of thing, but he’d lost it, lost conversation…

“Hiya Helja! Just going in or just coming out?” A very tall big-boned woman with a mass of very yellow hair looked up at them.

And then… and afterwards Gus couldn’t quite remember how it had happened, the blond woman had invited him and the hat woman for coffee… she’d just made a Somerset cider cake – and the hat woman had laughed about Granny Gibbon’s cake and introduced Gus by name… and he didn’t quite manage to protest of make an excuse, and the blond woman lived just opposite the shop… and suddenly he was walking into her house with the hat woman… Helja… was it Helja? Maybe it was Helen… And he was invited for coffee…

© Lois Elsden 2017

The lost brother

Looking back to when I first began my Radwinter stories I had forgotten how much I changed my plans and thoughts… This is what I wrote in 2012:

For quite a while I’ve had a character lurking in my busy writing brain .. now he has been joined by two brothers. I can see them so clearly the three of them, but as yet they have no story, and apart from being related to each other, they have no other connections like wives or parents.

They have no names but one of them, not necessarily the oldest, maybe the middle one, is about forty-five but as yet he doesn’t have a job or profession… although maybe he is a wine merchant… He is quite burly but not fat, quite tall but not a giant, he is always smartly – impeccably dressed but in a casual style… so designer jeans, expensive shirts definitely not off the peg, and shoes from a shoe shop not an outlet. Maybe he shops at Ede and Ravenscroft. He is quite controlled but seems amiable, has a twinkle in his eye and a dimple in his cheek, but people who meet him should beware, he is as hard as nails and quick in a fight. He is prematurely grey, has very blue eyes and is head-turningly handsome.

 

His brother who might actually be a few years older, around fifty, is very obviously his brother although smaller, and less grey and with friendly greenish eyes. He really is totally laid back, so laid back he is almost horizontal; but like his brother he has a core of steel and his enemies would be unwise to underestimate him. He is never short of girlfriends or lovers, but is secretly looking for ‘the one‘ to live with and love for the rest of his life. He’s not bothered about clothes, in fact he sometimes looks eccentrically scruffy. Maybe he’s a teacher, maybe he’s a writer, maybe he makes music… maybe he does all three.

The youngest brother is in his late thirties or about forty. He looks like his silver-haired brother did ten years previously but he is smaller, wiry and busy. His skin is always tanned even in winter, and he has the same cheek-dimpling grin, the same crinkling eyes which are definitely green. He wears jeans or dark trousers  t-shirts and jackets, as if he cares how he looks but can’t afford to dress as his silver-haired brother. He has a wild side to him though, and when he goes out with his oldest brother they can get into mischief even though they are way old enough to know better!

Well that certainly changed! The second brother vanished altogether! Well, he vanished but some aspects of him morphed into the youngest that I wrote about here.  Some time later I wrote about the brothers again:

… and now I not only have some possible names for them, but also a couple of other family members… probably cousins. My stories seem to be full of cousins, maybe because I love my own cousins so much. In fact it was while I was out and about in Essex with one of them that I saw a sign to the village of Radwinter and thought what a splendid name it would make. It then occurred to me that maybe Redwinter would be better… what do you think?

It was suggested by my cousin’s middle son that names beginning with J would go well with such a surname… I tried not to have my children with names beginning with the same name but it suddenly seemed that this family might well do that. So give me your thoughts:

  • oldest brother, wine merchant, prematurely silver-grey, blue eyes, sturdy but deceptively hard… Justin, Jerry (short for Jericho, his mother’s maiden name) or Jack
  • middle brother, greyish, very blue eyes, totally laid-back, slightly scruffy/hippy type… Jules (short for Julian, his father’s name) , Joe or Jimmy
  • youngest brother, teacher or wine-bar owner, brown hair, beard, tanned , green eyes… James, Johnny or Jasper

Cold… does Radwinter sound too cold, would Redwinter be better?

Somehow they have also acquired two cousins… the elder, who is probably the oldest in the family, has longish curly greying hair, piercing blue eyes and an unblinking deadly stare, he is severe and strict, but essentially kind, generous and protective of his younger brother. He is probably a priest or someone who is committed and driven, and has had to take on responsibility from an early age, losing him his young adulthood, and probably friends and girlfriends too.

His younger brother is the baby of the family, chubby, and sweet-faced, he has floppy brown hair in a long fringe, and a reddish short beard; he is always eating, or looking for something to eat. He may appear innocent, but he is probably the most intelligent of them all, and his Bambi eyes belie a shrewd and decisive nature. He is not to be underestimated, although he usually is, even by his family.

As for names for these two… I haven’t a clue!

I didn’t use any of the names i thought about – except Johnny did change to John for that character and there is a cousin Max. The cousin who seemed to be a priest, became a vicar and also joined the family as the eldest. Radwinter didn’t change to Redwinter, and the new youngest brother did not have the grazing habit I originally thought he might have! The oldest one is a wine merchant,…

Another post, and things have changed again…

…suddenly there was Peter Radwinter knocking on the door of his brother, Paul who had asked him over to meet his new fiancée, Ruthie.

I had been thinking about a family of brothers, I’d pondered over names and yet suddenly here they were on the page, with a fiancée and an as yet unseen wife, Rachel, and a cousin called Max. Paul it appears, has four sons, the youngest of which is twelve-year old Will. I have a feeling first names may change, they don’t quite fit what I have in mind…

On looking back at my previous post about the Radwinter family I find that then I had in mind two sets of cousins, Jerry, Jules and Johnny and two others. Somehow they have morphed into one family, and lost a brother in the transition…

Peter Radwinter! I had totally forgotten that my main character was Peter! Rachel became Rebecca but Ruthie remained Ruthie.

And finally…

Something which has happened while I have been writing this,  the narrator of the story has changed name; he was Peter, now he’s Thomas. Thomas has gone to visit a woman (the reason is concealed at the moment) He has arranged to visit her but when he arrives at her beautiful house, no-on answers the door so he wanders round to the back garden, and there she is on a lounger, sun-bathing. Suddenly a man appears and accuses Thomas of being a Peeping Tom and chases him off the property after hitting him in the face. Thomas drives quickly away, a mixture of outrage, embarrassment and humiliation churning within. But who was the woman? And who was the man who attacked Thomas?

So at last Thomas is Thomas… the incident with the sun-bathing woman was excised from ‘Radwinter’, but appeared much, much later, in the fourth novel in the series, ‘Beyond Hope’.

I am writing novel number six, provisionally entitled Saltpans, but already I have ideas for number seven – if that should ever happen!! One of these ideas might have been lurking in my subconscious for a very long time, because as I reread these original posts, there was one thing I wrote many years ago – Somehow they have morphed into one family, and lost a brother in the transition… wait a minute… a lost brother! Hey! How about that…. a lost brother… my mind is bubbling… 

Yes, you read it here first, a lost brother… and maybe he will be called Peter!

Here’s a link to my Radwinter books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1507040972&sr=8-7&keywords=lois+elsden

 

Telling stories

Because I love telling stories and writing so much, I have always wanted to share that with other people, and get them writing too! Everyone has a story, everyone has some tale to tell… When I was an English teacher part of the job was to do exactly that, to get young people to write. Yes, in theory it was for their exams, but in practice I wanted it to be much more.

I taught in main stream schools for over fifteen years, then after a brief intermission having my own children and telling them stories, I went back into teaching. In my new line of work I was teaching young people who for various reasons (often not through their own fault) they were not in school and outside the statutory education system. Many of them were totally alienated from even the idea of education, let alone what I was trying to teach which they saw as irrelevant. ‘I can speak English – I don’t need you to teach me!’

However, I needed to teach them; and in the last ‘school’ I worked in, I not only had to teach them, but in one single year prepare them for public exams and get them through those exams! Now most of these young people were intelligent, able, imaginative, literate… and short of time to turn things around to get the qualifications and certification they needed. My colleagues and I had just one year to get them ready!

I created what I suppose was actually a creative writing course… After I finished work to start writing full-time, I looked back at the material I had produced for them, which was in a specific order, and had been refined over years of trial and error with a very critical set of ‘guinea pigs’, and very important reason to get it right.

The upshot of all this is, that a short while ago, I polished up and published this material as a short book ‘So You Want To Write’!

Here is an excerpt:

Some people like to plan their stories, some people like to let their stories unfold almost by themselves or as the characters develop.
If you already have a story, skip the next bit! If you don’t have a story in mind, but really want to write something then you need…

… Inspiration

Where do stories come from? Here are some ideas:

  • an observation of people passing by
  • an incident you observed /a scrap of conversation overheard
  • a strange experience /coincidence
  • a dream/ day-dream
  • a traditional story or legend
  • a what if… moment
  • a found photo… who are those people?
  • the story of a house
  • a picture
  • a song/ music

So off you go and write your story, but once it is complete, then the hard work begins!
However you write your story, there are things common to all story-telling. Some are so obvious you may not have properly considered them. This brief list is expanded in an appendix – but there are plenty of ideas to get anyone writing!!

Here is a link to find ‘So You Want To Write’ – as an e-book or a tree book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Want-Write-Telling-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B074W19JK3/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1506244566&sr=8-4&keywords=lois+elsden

Literary Festival

I have to confess I have never been to a literary festival; so what are my excuses – in the past when I could afford it, I was working so any weekday events were out of the question, and weekend events were expensive and often logistically not possible. There are two literary festivals near-ish to me, Hay-on-Wye and Bath which attract big names and top writers/authors/poets/people – but I have never managed to get to either of them.

Now, very excitingly, there is, we hope, going to be a literary festival in our very own town of Weston-super-Mare, sometime early spring next year. So what have I done about it? Well, as a writer, I have got in contact to see if I can be involved – not just in the audience but in the actual events!

Writing is my life and it’s what I do all the time, from getting up in the morning, to last thing at night; I write my novels, I write her, I write in the shared blog I have with two friends, I teach writing, I lead writing groups, I read other people’s writing… it’s my life!!

I ran my first workshop for adults three years ago… here’s what I wrote about it:

Yesterday I ran my first creative writing workshop… and I admit that although I wasn’t nervous, I did have a lot of thoughts about would I be presenting ideas in the right way, would I be delivering what the group (of strangers) wanted, would I have enough to do for the four hours I was given? I felt sure all the people in the group would be nice and interesting, but many of them would be strangers to each other and would they gel? I have only been teaching creative writing for a year, so although I write masses and masses, actually teaching it to adults is fairly new for me. I have never even on any classes, courses,or workshops myself so I didn’t really know what exactly was expected to do.

I arrived having been told I would have eight ‘students’ – in fact I was pleased, delighted actually, to have eleven of them; pleased except I only had works sheets and other information for eight. I thought there might be one extra, but four extra?!! I started off by introducing myself and talking about my own writing and love of writing – just briefly, I didn’t want to sound boastful, and then each of the ‘students’ introduced themselves and said something about their writing experiences.

Three of them ran their own CW groups… oh goodness! They were much more experienced than I am!! But their way of doing it was very different from mine, so I think they did enjoy my class, and did learn something. Two of them were poets who had poems and books of poetry printed… heck! Two of them had written plays which had been performed… goodness!

However, I started off with the premise of a writer being aware of the voice s/he’s using… and although the group were very experienced in the most part of writing, some had clearly not really thought about ‘voice’, so we had some interesting discussions, and the exercises I gave seemed to go down well. A couple of people had stories to tell, but were pondering on how to tell them, and again I think – I hope that what we did yesterday was helpful, and maybe gave them an inkling of a way forward in ‘telling their story’,, as the title of the workshop said!

I had a really enjoyable day, I learned a lot, with some lovely,lovely people; I hope to meet them again, and I wish them all success in their writing ventures!

If you want to read my books, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden