Tuesday, 7 December 2010

December 3rd was our last meeting for 2010 and we celebrated with our annual Christmas Party. Despite the weather we turned up with our goodies and Christmas writings. Mike set us off with his fiendish book quiz that had most of us scratching our heads. Great fun though.
Tom had written a special christmas play in which we all had a part. So many thanks for that, it was great fun to do and we take our hats off to Tom's super casting skills.
For those who couldn't make it, we were thinking of you and hope everything is fine.
Looking forward to next year and our first meeting in January.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and Sucesssful New Year.


Friday, 19 November 2010

Competition in magazine Gardeners World Closing date 28th February 2011

A poem of no longer than 40lines

Subject Gardens

submit by post or email

email to gwpoetrybbc.com

Post to Gardener's World Magazine, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TQ

Include your name, address, telephone number, email address and Poem title

Winner's poem will be published in the June 2011 issue

Prizes 1st Prize £100 National Garden Gift vouchers, Runner-ups will receive £50 of vouchers

Main terms of conditions Must be your own original work must not have been published in print or online. Nor have been entered into any other competitions.

On entering you grant the BBC perpetual irrevocable and royalty free licence to publish or broadcast your poem in any media.

Winner to be notified by 30th April 2011

June magazine will on sale from 27th May


The meeting on 19th November was cancelled due to so many members being unable to travel because of the fog. Unfortunately this was our Winter Comp. night so our competition will have to be postponed. Next meeting is the Christmas party night, so we'll try and fit it in then if time permits. It is a disappointment to all, especially after our long November lay-off (it seems like ages since the last meeting) but hopefully our Christmas night will make up for it, with food, prizes, games... and new for this year, we are promised a spectacular Christmas play by Tom, our favourite playwright.

So cheer up, listen... are those jingle bells I hear?

Hi everyone

I hope tonight's fog isn't a sign of things to come this winter. It unfortunately put paid to our winter competition night as so few of us could make it to Bebington.
It has been suggested that the competition could be included as part of our Christmas Evening so please bring your entry with you on the 4th December. However if you have written your Christmas piece please bring your seasonal offering too.
Just to remind everyone the Christmas Evening has an open invitation to friends and family to join us. Members are requested to bring something for the Christmas Draw, it's more like a Lucky Dip really as most years everyone gets to receive something.
Please bring your favourite nibbles and drink.
And most of all bring yourselves.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Words Fail

Here's one of my trunk stories. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for this one. I guess it's appropriate for a blog about writers. (Note, the story is protected by a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives licence - see note at the end)

Words Fail
by Mike Wood

“So, tell me, when did this… condition, first manifest itself?”
            Doctor Roberts sat back and peered at Malcolm over the top of his bifocals.
“Yesterday afternoon,” said Malcolm. “I’d been marking exam papers all morning and I needed a break, so I walked into town to buy a paper.”
Malcolm unfolded his arms and the doctor could see that his hands were shaking. “It was raining. I went into W H Smiths and just wandered over to the magazines. I picked a few up, you know, just to kill time until the rain passed. I started reading… oh, I don’t know, might have been National Geographic or something. After just a few lines I realised that I wasn’t reading the words any more. I was seeing the words - the letters - but they just didn’t seem to mean anything to me. It was like they’d become jumbled up… scrambled.”
“Has anything like this happened to you before?”
“No. No, of course not. I couldn’t understand. I didn’t panic at first - I thought maybe I’d picked up a foreign language edition or something - only deep down I knew that wasn’t right, I knew that even in another language the words would have, I don’t know, form maybe – some kind of consistency.”
“Well, it was nothing like that. They seemed like, random letters… gobbledygook. Only they weren’t even letters. I didn’t recognise any of them. I picked up another magazine, only this time I went for a TV listings mag - one of the cheap ones with soap stars on the front. I thought, hey, there’s not going to be a Bulgarian language version of that one here in the High Street, you know?
“But I couldn’t read it. Not a word.” Malcolm’s voice was getting edgy again. There were the beginnings of hysteria creeping into his manner. His fists were clenching and unclenching, he has licking his lips as they constantly dried out. Doctor Roberts felt the need to offer some reassurance, although he felt by no means comfortable with what he was hearing.
“Have you been working hard lately? You say you’ve been marking exam papers – have you been over-doing it perhaps?”
“I’ve been working hard, for sure. But nothing unusual. Nothing that you’d call excessive.”
I believe that what you are experiencing is a neurological condition called aphasia. Now, I don’t want you to worry, there are many possible causes and it may not be lasting. It could have been brought about by stress or overwork, but at the same time I can’t rule out the possibility of other clinical causes. Neurogenic communication disorders like this can be caused by strokes amongst other things. Yes, it’s conceivable, Mr Jones, that you’ve suffered a mild stroke. It’s unusual for a man of your age, twenty-three, but I’m going to refer you to a colleague at the hospital.”
As Dr Roberts went through the mantra of referral he watched the familiar clashing of emotions, of shock and relief, as they fought for dominance in Malcolm Jones’ features. Shock at having such a stark prognosis laid out for him; relief that he was talking to someone who knew – someone who was in control of a familiar situation.
But Dr. David Roberts was a long way from feeling in control. His calm demeanour was an act. As soon as Malcolm left his surgery, looking shaken, yes, but certainly a little happier, David closed the door and asked his receptionist to hold the next patient. He dropped into his chair, reclining it to its fullest extent. He heaved a long and shuddering sigh and ran his fingers through his thinning grey hair.
Malcolm Jones had been the third inexplicable aphasia case that morning. Two would have been a remarkable coincidence, three was cause for alarm.
 He picked up the phone.
“Andrea, morning, it’s Dave, how are you today?”
A pause.  Then, “Dave, what can I do for you?”
David had known Andrea McCloud since medical school. They’d been friends for years. She had a small practice about ten miles away.
“Andrea, I’ve had three strange cases this morning, three alarmingly similar cases, and quite frankly, I’m baffled. Patients are coming in with sudden onset of aphasia; identical symptoms. They’ve lost the ability, totally, to read.”
There was silence from the other end of the phone.
“Dave, yes, I’m still here. Three you say?” her voice sounded strange, almost distant.
“Yes, all within the last two hours. It’s creepy.”
“Hmm.” Another long silence. “David, I’ve had two cases here.” She said this without emotion. She let it hang in the air for a moment. “The first was my final slot yesterday evening.” Andrea’s voice was flat, unemotional. She was calling him David, not Dave. “David, the second… it’s me. I… I started having difficulty with the patients’ records on my PC. When I came to key-in prescription details I couldn’t recognise the characters on the keyboard. I closed the surgery thirty minutes ago. I’ve been sitting here trying to build up the nerve to call you… no, that’s not quite true. I tried to call you earlier, but… Dave, I couldn’t find your number in my address book. I couldn’t find anything in there, it’s just, it’s rubbish, it’s meaningless scrawl. I’m scared, Dave.”
David Roberts, the doctor whose calm and reassuring bedside manner was known and admired throughout the district, uttered an obscenity. Silence roared back at him through the earpiece of the phone. David moved the phone to his other ear, changing hands. The phone had become wet with perspiration.
“Hold on Andrea,” he said at last, fighting to keep a note of calm in his voice. “I’m coming over. I’ll cancel the rest of my patients this morning.”
“Thanks, Dave. Thank you. You’re a good friend.”
David left his office and gave instructions to Joan, his receptionist, to cancel the remainder of his patients that morning. “Tell them an emergency’s cropped up,” he said.
“What is it, doctor? What’s happened.” Joan asked.
“An emergency, Joan. It’s a bloody emergency.”

David climbed into his BMW and eased the car out of the narrow car park and onto the road. It was usually busy, but today the traffic was quite light. The radio was on and the eleven o’clock news was just starting. The headlines were all about the latest political indiscretions and backstabbing. David barely listened, it was just background noise; his mind was too preoccupied. But then his ears pricked up part way through a short item at the tail end of the news bulletin; a breaking-news report about a large number people in the capital that were said to be experiencing reading difficulties. David turned up the volume control but the news item was brief and light on detail, and the news soon segued smoothly into the sport… “and the England manager will today announce the squad for the forthcoming friendly against Peru. It’s widely believed that… erm… the team will… er…” there was an audible shuffling of papers, a nervous cough. “I’m sorry, let me try that again. I, erm. I’m having a little difficulty here. I… I think maybe I have the wrong glasses. I’ll pass you back to the studio…”
David knew. He knew that a change of glasses would be no help to the unfortunate sports correspondent. He knew that something serious was happening. How widespread was this? National? Global? Would the aphasia be permanent? David pulled the car over to the side of the road. He needed to think. He needed to stop shaking and he needed not to crash the car. He was a doctor. He should be on top of this. What was the procedure here? What should he do? Whatever this thing was it was fast. The evidence pointed to some kind of virus, and in a single day it had moved from obscurity to pandemic. Simultaneous cases here in Lancashire and London, within a day - Christ, the speed of this thing was phenomenal.
David reached out his mobile. He should ring the Strategic Health Authority. He began paging through the directory in his phone: Alan Birch: Andrea McCloud: Barry Williams: Colid dfghs: Dghew Hjfsa… He stared at the display. His hands, already shaking, began to tremble so much he lost his grip on the phone and it fell into the footwell of the car. On the other side of the road there was a bus shelter with a large advertisement in the end panel. It seemed to be for a travel agent of some sort but David could not read the writing. He covered his face with his hands and took several deep breaths. He must take a few moments to regain control of himself before continuing. What good would he be to Andrea now?
A terrifying image came to David’s head of a world where reading had become a forgotten skill. The implications were appalling. Without reading how might knowledge be acquired? How could knowledge and information be stored, or passed from one generation to the next? TV and radio would cease to function, as would schools and colleges. Businesses would fail. Governments could not function. Basic services – health, transport, power…The inevitable downward spiral was dizzying. If this… virus, if that really was the nature of this thing… if this virus is as virulent as at appeared to be, then how could it be stopped? How could research be progressed and communicated? David realised that he was staring ah somethjdb fhat was nkffn lv’vsd vvrlgkl. 48n’ba zfbvl234t9 n ag  aagna  v  goin asdv.? Ie iafnbe sgn KJ\ FFffde…

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Forthcoming Meetings

A quick update on what's coming up over the next few weeks>>>>

Next meeting, 1st October, is our AGM. If anyone has anything to go on the agenda please email me.

15th October is the night when we learn who wins the Maynah Lewis Cup for 2010. We are pleased to welcome this year's judge, Judith Railton, who has agreed to announce the winner, present the cup, and give a little talk. Looking forward to it.

Now, important, THERE IS NO MEETING ON FRIDAY 5TH NOVEMBER. This is because the annual  fireworks display and ritual burning of Mayer Park takes place that night, and there will be nowhere to park our cars. So it gives us an extra night of writing at home to prepare for Friday 19th November, when we will hold our annual short competition.

For those of you who are new, here's how it works: We each write a 500 word piece (this year it is an article about a hobby or interest) and on the 19th Nov meeting we read it out. Nobody says a word, instead we mark each story out of ten, on a score sheet, and write some brief comments. Then we add up the scores and somebody wins.

Then on 3rd of December we wrap up the year with our Christmas Party. More details about this to follow.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Brook Meadow

Just back from this year's writer's meal at the Brook Meadow Hotel. Another succession outing and the weather continues to be kind to us, allowing us to once more extend our afternoon into the gardens. Good to see some new faces this year - I hope that Nick, Tom and Linda enjoyed the occasion.

No photo this year I'm afraid. I spent so long trying to set up the camera and figure out the self timer that the batteries died before I managed to actually take the picture. Ho hum.

Cheryl presented us with a new challenge - a flash fiction piece in just 75 words, five of which were specified in advance. As we only had yesterday to knock something together it was great to see so many having a go. If anyone wants to post their efforts, feel free to put then up on the blog.

This year's Maynah Lewis competition is in the process of being judged. We're pleased to have Judith Railton, the creative writing tutor from 3L's as our competition judge this year. Judith is also editor for The Wirral Society and for The Wirral committee for CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England. We're very grateful to her for giving her time to do this. Details of the grand prize ceremony to follow.

I promised some info from Dee Rivaz about writing activities in the Mold/Ruthin area. Here goes:

Mondays Sept 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th 10am to 12 noon.

Weekly Workshops for Pinboard Writers’ Group at the
Daniel Owen Centre, Mold.
Free taster workshop sponsored by NIACE Dysgu Cymru for their ‘Sign Up
Now’ Autumn Festival of Learning.

Venue: Nantclwyd y Dre, Castle St Ruthin, LL15 1DP.

All levels of skill and experience welcome.

This workshop will concentrate on stimulating ideas for new writing in the atmospheric parlour of this 15th century town house and its peaceful gardens.

Thurs 16th Sept: 7 pmOpen Mic evening, Haydn Rees Room, Clwyd Theatre Cymru. Free slots for participants:£2 for audience tickets. Book your slot early as they are limited! Great opportunity for writers to share their work – poetry or prose. Contact Academi North Wales Fieldworker, Sioned Jones on: sioned@academi.org or 01766 522 817 to book.

Sat 25th Sept : 11am to 4 pm
Free taster workshop sponsored by NIACE Dysgu Cymru for their ‘Sign Up Now’ Autumn Festival of Learning.
Venue: Y Caban. Plas Newydd, Hill St, Llangollen, LL20 8AW.
All levels of skill and experience welcome.
This workshop will concentrate on stimulating ideas for new writing in
the extraordinary grounds of Plas Newydd, home to the Two Ladies of Llangollen.
Take advantage of this opportunity to work in the company of other writers, and see what there is to sign up to this autumn.

Mon 27th Sept: 1 to 3.30pm

Bilingual blankets, banners and bunting! Free Bilingual craft and writing workshop at Rhydymwyn Valley Park Visitor Centre. This is an experimental project, supported by Menter Iaith, Everyone welcome but the hope is that Welsh learners will take the opportunity to explore and practise their Welsh in a totally informal situation. The focus of the craft activity will be to fashion squares that interpret an idea through images and words in each language, in any media (that’s workable!) and by any method preferred - collage, printing, appliqué, embroidery, felt, knitting, crochet and so on. The idea would be that these smaller pieces could then be made up into larger items like blankets, throws, hangings, friezes or even flags or celebratory bunting (dare I say there might be a few ideas for Christmas here?).

We are going to meet once a month for a few months to see if the idea takes off, so please do come and join us. There will be tutorial support and ideas and resources to start us off, but the more people who can bring their own skills and materials to add to the equation, the better!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

A Good Week

Two pieces of news this week. Firstly, my Writer's of the Future story has been recorded and is currently running on StarShipSofa (which is nice, because StarShipSofa is also my favourite podcast) and to add some extra spice the story is being put up in a head-to-head against a piece by the writer Frederic Brown, old writer vs new writer. (I'm the new writer, by the way - I guess my bio picture hasn't been studied too closely.)
So if anyone wants to vote, please pop over to the Starship and hit the button - but listen to the stories first and judge on merit, I'm not advocating any log-rolling here, even though I stand to be publicly humiliated before the whole planet.)

And then, hot on the heels of this piece of news, I also have an acceptance from Jupiter magazine for my SF story 'The Bottle Garden'. Those with a good memory might recall my reading this at the writers group about a year ago - so thank you to everyone, your advice and suggestions were (mostly) heeded and have resulted in a sale. And anyone who is not part of Wirral Writers, please come along and join us, because our little crit group really can make the difference between a story getting out there in print or just languishing in a drawer.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Maynah Lewis Comp

A reminder to those who have not been to some of our recent meetings, the closing date for Maynah Lewis competition entries is Friday 21st May.

The theme for this year's short story is 'travel'. Entries should be of 1600 words or less and your name must not appear anywhere on the script. Inventive pseudonyms are therefore encouraged.

So, just ten days remain. Start writing!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Hi Mike,
got your email, thanks, but unable to reply via email all my post is being returned to me. Can't think why and I don't understand the reasons given.
Lovely barbie weather during the day, though this morning the fog was so thick it stopped the ferries running and slowed the rush hour traffic so much that the carpet layer arrived at 7.30am instead of 7am. I don't know what surprised me most the fog or the fact that tradesmen start early here.
I'm glad everything is on the way with John Oakden and hopefully I'll be back before June, ash permitting of course.
Will contact again through this link if anything crops up that might be of particular interest.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Creative Writing/Blogging Project

I've had an email from Elaine Speight who is an artist and curator based on the Wirral. She's currently doing some work in the housing renewal (HMRI) areas of Wirral, namely Rock Ferry, Tranmere, Birkenhead and Seacombe.
From Thursday 1 April until the end of May she and novelist Jenn Ashworth will be running a series of weekly workshops for residents of HMRI areas in creative writing and blogging.
I'll pass on more details at the next meeting, but in view of the short timescales any members who are interested could email me and I'll pass on Elaine's email address for more info.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Vintage Radio Stories

A call to everyone at Wirral Writers. We've been asked for more stories for Vintage Radio. This time the stories will be recorded and put out on an internet version of the show.

If you have anything of, say, ten to fifteen minutes, and you want to give it an airing on the WorldWideWeb, please let me know ASAP and I'll let Marion know of our response.

If you're not a member of Wirral Writers and you're reading this, why not come along to our next meeting and give us a try. It's fun, and you too could get to hear your work broadcast.