Sunday, 27 January 2013

So You Want to be a Writer application information

Alex Chilsholm has just forwarded me the following information that I thought would be of interest to my followers:

SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER? 2013 – 10th Anniversary Edition


For ten years the Playhouse has been running its free new writers’ course aimed at writers of any age with little or no experience of formal training or production. Over that time it has discovered some amazing writers: Alice Nutter, Tom Wells, Dom Grace, Ben Tagoe, Jodie Marshall and May Sumbwanyambe. This year it might be you! The course runs weekly on a Monday or Tuesday evening (7-9pm) from Monday 8 April leading to a showcase of short plays. It is lead by Mark Catley plus other experienced playwrights. In order to apply, submit a ONE A4 page letter telling us about yourself, why you want to write and why you want to join.


Participants should be available for all the following dates and be aware there will be a time commitment between sessions for writing, re-writing, research and attending rehearsals:


Monday April 8th                                  

Monday April 15th                               

Monday April 22nd                              

Monday April 29th                               

Tuesday May 7th                  


Showcase: Saturday 25th May


Deadline for applications is 5pm 8 March 2013. Successful applicants will be notified by 22 March.




Address for SYWTBAW applications

Alex Chisholm

Associate Director (Literary)

West Yorkshire Playhouse

Playhouse Square

Quarry Hill

Leeds LS2 7UP


Only postal applications will be accepted. No emails please.


Tips for applying:

1. This isn't a job application. Phrases like 'I am a goal-orientated individual deeply committed to a writing career' don’t tell us anything except that you can write formal letters. We want to hear what you sound like.


2. There is no 'right' format. We've taken people who have written short handwritten notes and full 1 page A4 close written type. It is how you write not what you use to write with that counts.


3. This is not the X factor. A sob story does not automatically mean inclusion. You may have had the most boring life ever but if you can write about yourself in an interesting way - you're in.


4. Don't write it in the form of a script. Every year someone tries. It never works.

5. This is not for people who are looking for an opportunity to develop a script they have already written - the script reading service is for that.


6. The course has a regional bias so the further away from Yorkshire you live the less likely it is that we will take you. We are not going to take someone from London for seven week evening course.


7. The course is aimed at people with little or no experience but that doesn't mean you are automatically disqualified if you have studied writing at any stage. We reserve the right to occasionally bend our own rules.

8. One of our aims is to try to get a diverse group of people together across age, background, gender and writing style. This is because we think the course works best with lots of different kinds of people rather than a group of all 21 year old college leavers. A lot of our applications do come from younger people just out of college however if that means we have to take fewer in that category the upside is there are usually more opportunities out there for young writers.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Standing in Another Man's Grave

Finished this book last night (yes, that's right, reading it in bed) and I can honestly say I am sad it is over.  I really enjoyed the story and guessing 'who done it.'  I love Ian Rankin's Rebus and it was brilliant to spend time with him again (with the extra highlight of a sprinkle of his new creation, Malcolm Fox, thrown in for good measure).  The story was woven with his usual style of home-truths and atmosphere that make me want to book a trip to Scotland straight away (after all, the murders are only fiction). 

While Rebus is working in the closed-cases unit, considering applying for active service again, the mother of an old MisPer (missing person) suggests that the latest girl to go missing on the A9 may be the latest in a pattern of seemingly unconnected disappearances.  Investigations into the files, lead the team to discover that she may be right and that a serial killer may be at work.  Rebus' methods into uncovering the truth may just bring him even more trouble from the Complaints department and a certain Malcolm Fox.

I loved the little touches such as Rebus' sarcasm and the grounding of his character when forced to look at dolphins (or kelpies) with Clarke, that brought home to him the truth of his relationship with his daughter.  True-to-life dipictions in an outstanding mystery.

Hope he's already working on the next one.                                                  10/10

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Crime Writing

Just started reading my fab Christmas present hardback of Ian Rankin's new novel 'Standing in another man's grave' and already it is proving unputdownable (one of my favourite words when it comes to books).  It features both John Rebus and Malcolm Fox, though more of Rebus, and I am loving it.  Interestingly, I watched the tv programme before Christmas that focussed on Ian Rankin's writing process as he wrote the book, so it is even more enlightening as I read it.  Was a fascinating programme (not sure if it will still be available on iplayer) in terms of processes and idea generation and what a writer to focus on.  He has won the Cartier Diamond Dagger, Edgar Award for Best Novel, Grand Prix de Littérature Policière - International Category and has had movies and tv shows generated from his novels.

Talking of crime writing, Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which takes place in Harrogate 18-21 July 2013 have announced that crime writer Lee Child will be featuring along with Val McDermid, Kate Atkinson, Charlaine Harris, Susan Hill and Ruth Rendell.  Sounds like it will be a fantastic event, more details of which can be found on or call the Festival Office on 01423 562 303 or email 

Got to get back to the book now..........

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Meet the Author Event - Stephen May

Wednesday 23 January

Meet the Author - Stephen May

King Cross Library


STEPHEN MAY is an award-winning novelist who lives in West Yorkshire. In 2009 he won the Welsh Book of the Year Reader’s Prize for his first novel TAG (Cinnamon Press, 2008), despite not being in the slightest bit Welsh. His second novel Life! Death! Prizes! was published by Bloomsbury in 2012. For 19-year-old Billy and his little brother, Oscar, their mother’s death is the most random and tragic and stupid thing that could possibly have happened to them. Now Billy must be both mother and father to Oscar. Funny, bittersweet and unforgettable, Life! Death! Prizes! is a story of grief, resilience and brotherly love.

For further information 01422 392606

Monday, 14 January 2013

Meet the Author event 17 January in Halifax

Anna Turner has informed me of the following event and that there are still places available:

Thursday 17 January

Meet the Author - Fiona Shaw

Central Library, Halifax


FIONA SHAW is a writer living in York. She is the author of a memoir, Out of Me (Virago, 2001) and four novels. She is a Royal Literary Fund writing fellow and teaches creative and life writing. Her most recent novel, A Stone’s Throw, is published by Serpent’s Tail. Set in England and Africa, and opening during World War II, A Stone’s Throw is a novel about family, about love, about duty; it’s about the people we miss and the secrets we keep. Above all though, it’s about the choices we make – and those we don’t.

Tickets - £3
call 01422 392606 for information


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Writers and Artists Events

The Writers and Artists team have informed me of a couple of events coming up soon that I thought I would share with my followers:

How to Hook an Agent
Saturday 26th January
Join us for an intimate lunch in the beautiful Georgian surroundings of Bloomsbury, London.
If your new year's resolution is to get your book published then this is your chance to come and hook your agent.
Jo Unwin
This intimate half-day event with four literary agents will give you insider knowledge on how to submit your manuscript to an agent, what they're looking for and how to grab their attention. With a networking lunch and a chance to go speed-dating with the agents, you'll receive one-to-one feedback on how best to hook your agent. 
Held in the historic literary surroundings of Bloomsbury at Bloomsbury Publishing, home to authors including Margaret Atwood and J.K. Rowling, this is your chance to get noticed.
Madeleine Milburn
There are just 18 places available so book yours now to avoid disappointment. Places are on a first come, first served basis.

How to Write Successfully for Children and Young Adults
Saturday 2nd March
Hone your writing skills with successful children's authors and find out how to get your book published.
Early bird tickets: £65
If you're passionate about writing witty, innovative and lively stories for children and young adults, this conference will help you kick start your career as a children's writer with a whizz, pop and a bang.

This conference brings together the most experienced publishers, literary agents and authors to share their experiences; give advice and guide you on how to write and publish successfully.
Camilla Reid
Camilla Reid , Editorial Director of Nosy Crow and author of the Lulu series, Rebecca McNally , Publishing Director and International Editor-in-Chief of Bloomsbury Children's Books and Jill Coleman , Managing Director of Little Tiger Press, reveal what today's publishers are looking for and top children's literary agent Caroline Walsh reveals the inside world of the author agent relationship with children's writer and illustrator Liz Pichon . Nicholas Allan , author of The Queen's Knickers , and Jon Mayhew , creative writing tutor and author of Mortlock , will be giving writing masterclasses on crafting captivating stories for young imaginations.
Liz Pichon
The day will be filled with practical advice on how to get your work ready for submission, what publishers and agents are looking for and how the agent-author relationship works. We're delighted to offer smaller, practical writing sessions with successful authors with a choice of writing workshops for the 0-7s, 8-12s and 13+ age groups.
And there'll be a chance to network with literary agents who specialise in children's literature at the end of the day with a drinks reception at Bloomsbury.

Some essentials for your 2013 bookshelf

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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Les Miserables movie review

My husband and I went to see a preview showing of Les Miserables at the Showcase last night and it was amazing.  There was literally not a seat left in the house and as such, my husband and I were sat right on the front row to the left and had to spend the movie (150 minutes) staring up at the screen (cricked neck alert) but this could not detract from the power of the movie. 

We have been to see the stage show more than once, both professional and amateur, and love it, so we were expecting great things.  Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Van Helsing) as Jean Valjean was superb.  He was almost unrecognisable at first when he is prisoner 24601 but he gives a gritty and moving performance throughout.  Samantha Barks as Eponine was outstanding (though this should not be surprising given her turn in the 25th anniversary Les Miserables), but I was a little disappointed with Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia, In Time) as her Cosette was played far too dippy to be taken seriously and her voice got so high that at times I expected a bird to explode nearby a la Shrek's Fiona.  Newcomers Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche and Isabelle Allen as young Cosette were spot on, which is remarkable considering Isabelle was acting the part of a boy in her school play only a year ago.  I expect to hear more from these too.  Eddie Redmayne (My week with Marilyn, The Other Boleyn Girl) as Marius and Aaron Tveit (Premium Rush, Ghost Town) as Enjolras were also perfectly cast, as was Russell Crow (A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) as Javert, even if his vocals did sometimes grate into cigarette rocker.  Sacha Baron Cohen (The Dictator, Borat, Bruno) and Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, The King's Speech) also treat us to a fine comedic performance as Thenardier and Madame Thenardier.

The real star of the movie however, is Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, The Devil Wears Prada) as Fantine and although she is in the film for very little time, she steals the show.  Her performance is both angry and heartbreaking to a powerful degree and I would think it a travesty if an Oscar does not wing its way to her on the strength of this role.

The genius of the Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, The Damned United) direction, gives close ups of the characters whilst they sing, so that most of the shot is taken up with the raw emotion in their faces and this drags you into the movie in a way the show cannot.  Amazing when you consider that each song was done live and in one take (it must have been very hard to choose which one to go with) but it benefits from the spontaniety.

I thought the fight scenes could have been less 'stagey' as could the barricade, but these are minor points in a film that arguably revolutionises the movie musical.  You will not be surprised therefore, when I tell you that the audience broke out into loud applause at the end of the movie, which is a very rare thing indeed for a film, let alone a musical.

A tour de force               10/10

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Writing Events - Hebden Bridge

Magic and Faraway Places – Sunday 27 January, Hebden Bridge Library
11.30am -m 1.30pm Writing the Journey a Poetry Workshop with Christy Ducker £6/4
2.30pm - 4.30pm Short Story Workshop with Cassandra Parkin Literary Thievery £6/4
2.30pm - 4.30pm The Long Poem: A Poetry Workshop with Pauline Plummer £6/4
5.00pm - 6.00pm Tales of Magic and Faraway Places free event featuring the above writers and chaired by James Nash
For full details and how to book:
Anna Turner
Reader Development Librarian
01422 392606
Central Library



Monday, 7 January 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Took the family to see this yesterday as my husband and son have been itching to see it since it came out (me too if I'm honest). 

Although this film was very slow to start, it soon got into its own with stunning visuals and fine acting.  Martin Freeman (TVs The Office, films Love Actually, Nativity) was excellent as a bumbling, complaining and homely Bilbo Baggins and played the part with empathy.  Ian McKellan (X-Men, Lord of the Rings) starred once more as Gandalf and it was lovely to see him using his magic more.  Talking of magic, Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Dr Who) played Radagast the Brown and I really liked him in this, which is more than I can say about his performance as the Dr. 

Richard Armitage plays Thorin who was spot-on as the troubled would-be King, though he sounded a lot like Sean Bean and so reminded me of Boromir from the previous film. The other dwarves were Balin (Ken Stott of TVs Rebus), Dwalin (Graham McTavish of Rambo and The Wicker Tree), Bifur (William Kircher from Out of The Blue, The Last Tattoo), Bofur (James Nesbitt, a fine actor known for TVs Monroe and Murphy's Law), Bombur (Stephen Hunter, Love My Way), Ori (Adam Brown), Dori (Mark Hadlow, King Kong), Nori (Jed Brophy of the fantastic film District 9), Goin (Peter Hambleton, The Last Tattoo), Oin (John Callen, The Rainbow Warrior), Fili (Dean O'Gorman of Young Hercules, Toy Love) and Kili, my personal favourite, played by the brillian Aiden Turner (Mitchell in the superb BBC3 TV series Being Human).  I absolutely loved his one-liners and his prowess with a bow (rather like Legolas Greenleaf, my favourite from the previous films). 

Most of the aforementioned are all excellent British actors and it was fantastic to see them in such big film roles.  Don't worry that all your favourites from Lord of the Rings aren't there though, as there are appearances from Ian Holm (as old Bilbo), Elijah Wood (Frodo), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Hugo Weaving (Lord Elrond), Christopher Lee (Saruman) and of course, the scary and convincing Andy Serkis (Gollum/Smeagol).

I had seen reviews in Empire and on TV for the film review that were not as I had hoped, but I have to say, I really enjoyed this movie as it transported me to another world.  Yes, it was aimed more for the children, but then so was Tolkien's excellent book.                                            8/10

Sunday, 6 January 2013

New Years Resolutions

Like everyone seems to do at this time of year and I know most writers do, I am going to list my resolutions here in an attempt to force myself into keeping them :)

1)  Get my final edit for Thorde: The Keeper of the Trysk done for 1 February 2013
2)  Get Quantum Worlds to first draft by April 2013
3)  Enter more writing competitions and try to get an agent (involves getting more brave)
4)  Write more (sound familiar anyone?)
5)  Lose weight (involves joining my friend on a diet, exercising more and cutting down on drink)
6)  Do more walking (I love it when I do it, the weather conspires against me)
7)  Go to the theatre, movies and read more
8)  Organise more family treats (like camping, trips to London etc.)

Here's to keeping our resolutions.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Spoken Word Flood Fundraiser at Hebden Bridge

My writer friend Ian has let me know about the following event that he is co-organising:

Calder Valley writers come together in aid of flood fund



A spoken word event featuring local writers aims to raise money for the Upper Valley Flood Fund. The fundraiser, Speech Bubble, is to be held at the Hole In The Wall in Hebden Bridge on January 24 at 7:30pm. It will feature some work specially written in response to the floods, which hit the region in the summer of 2012.


“We want to do our bit to help people affected by the floods and show they’re still in our thoughts,” said Oxana Poberejnaia, organiser of the event. “At the same time, we’re aiming to celebrate the valley’s unique spirit of resilience through an evening of stimulating entertainment.”


Acclaimed poet Carola Luther will read a selection of poems exploring themes of water, climate change or drought.  Award-winning poet Char March will read her prose piece entitled “Flood the First” inspired by the June and July floods. Winston Plowes will present his verbal and visual poetry created as a reaction to the floods in Hebden Bridge.


Ian Humphreys will read his wry short story “Labels”, Graham Alexander will read a selection of insightful verse and flash fiction, and Jim Donaghy will entertain with his lively rhymed poems.


Oxana will introduce her collection of poems “Sherlock Suite” inspired by the BBC's "Sherlock" drama series. An original musical score composed by her brother, Alexander Poberezhny, will accompany the work.


Event details:

Date: Thursday, January 24th at 7:30pm.


Entry: £4 on the night. All entrance fees will be donated to the Upper Valley Flood Fund.




Media contact:


Oxana Poberejnaia                tel:       01706839405