Monday, 29 April 2013

Cleckheaton Writer's Group meeting 29 April 2013

Excellent meeting of the Writer's Group this evening, where all but one member was in attendance and I shared my sweetmeats that I had brought back from my recent holiday in Tunisia with group. 

The productive evening started with details of the Mandasue Heller author talk that is taking place at Cleckheaton Library on Tuesday 21 May at 7.30pm.  L, D and I have already purchased tickets to this event and at a bargain price of £2 each, I am sure some of the other members may also be in attendance.

I shared details of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival with the other members and told them that the event was booking up fast.

D shared the exciting news that some of her poems have been accepted for publication in a magazine.  She has also sent off a short romantic story entitled 'The Temple of Jupiter' to the People's Friend Magazine that she read out to the group for feedback.  The story was very evocative and was open ended, which worked well with the ethereal nature of the setting and subject matter.

D informed the group that she is at the end of her current draft of the TSC, but that it is now well over the word count for a children's novel, so she will now need to edit it down.  Some of the other members suggested splitting the novel into three sections as separate books, but D is not sure that that will work with her overall story arc.

L shared the planning and ideas for her new work in progress and all members agreed that they were looking forward to reading it.  We were all very keen on her new idea for a plot twist and L promised that she would complete a section of the novel for the next meeting and send it to all members prior to the meeting for feedback.

I shared my writing challenge piece which intrigued the members (though it may have given a few things away to those members that have not yet finished reading my novel Thorde) and P shared her short story with a twist in the tale.  The group felt that the open ending worked well, as did the question mark over who the narrator was addressing and that it could easily be turned into a novel.

The next meeting will take place on Monday 13 May at 6-8pm at Cleckheaton Library.  New members always welcome.

Theakson Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, 18-21 July 2013

I have just bagged the last two Saturday Rover tickets to the Harrogate International Festival (as all individual Lee Child tickets were sold out) on 20th July and also purchased two tickets to the Charlaine Harris author talk on 21st July as part of the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, so I thought I had better share the information with my followers in case they wish to get some tickets before they all sell out.  Maybe see you there?



Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, 18-21 July 2013

2013 Festival Tickets Selling Fast!

Day Rovers, Weekend Rovers and Individual Event Tickets for the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival are flying out the door! On this year's programme there's more of the biggest names in the business than ever before with Special Guests including Val McDermid, Kate Atkinson,  Charlaine Harris, Susan Hill, Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson, Lee Child,  William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin (all pictured below). With individual tickets for one of these international stars already sold out, we advise you book soon to avoid disappointment. Don't miss your chance to see these amazing names on the Harrogate stage this July! Go on...indulge your criminal tendencies!

Weekend Rover (£199 each) and Day Rover tickets (£85 each) are fantastic value for money with delicious lunches and a goody bag packed full of exclusive crime writing treats included in the price. Individual event tickets start from as little as £10, allowing you to dip in and out of the programme without putting a strain on your pocket. With four days packed with events, and over 80 authors in attendance, make sure you get a piece of the action!

For the Full Festival Programme Click Here

Box Office: 01423 562 303
Book Online

Creative Thursday

Final Few Places Left

Calling all aspiring writers! Don't miss your chance to hone your novel and short story writing skills with a day-long programme of workshops and seminars led by bestselling crime writers, publishing industry professionals and real-life crime experts. 

2013 Creative Thursday
Thursday 18 July
Time - 9am – 6pm
Price - £99 per person

This year's Creative Thursday is packed with workshops and interactive sessions to inspire and support your writing. Examine the greats of crime fiction with UEA creative writing tutor (and crime writer) Henry Sutton. Find out how to construct gripping plots and memorable characters with authors M.R. Hall and William RyanPlus ask yourself ‘Do we really see what we think we see?’ with Callum Sutherland from the Forensic Science Society.

There is also the return of the popular Dragons Pen! Four brilliant publishing professionals: Jane Gregory, Gordon Wise, Maria Rejt and Jade Chandler, two minutes to convince them your synopsis and first chapter are worth reading, one audience full of your fellow would-be writers watching how you fare. Our literary version of the popular TV show, the Dragons’ Den, is not for the faint-hearted.

For more details or to book your place please call the Festivals Office on 01423 562 303 or email
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Pick of the Panels

With more than 80 authors programmed in over 20 events over one long criminally good weekend, we wanted to give you a helping hand with our 'Pick of the Panels'. Here's a glimpse of some of the subjects under discussion with some panels you can really get your teeth stuck in to!

Fri 19 July | 10.30am | £10
PANEL DISCUSSION: Dead In Deutschland

European crime fiction has made a killing recently, but is it time for the Scandinavians to pass their woolly jumpers to their southern neighbours? Crime novels or ‘Krimis’ have exploded in Germany with festivals and bookshops devoted to the bestsellers. Four German crime writers shed light on the burgeoning scene, exploring why the genre has finally demanded respect within their culture. The UK’s leading expert on translated crime fiction Barry Forshaw asks  Jan Costin Wagner, Sebastian Fitzek (pictured right), Nele Neuhaus and Dane Jussi Adler-Olsen, is German crime fiction the Next Big Thing?
Book Online
Box Office: 01423 562 303

Fri 19 July | 2pm | £10
PANEL DISCUSSION: Social Media: Who Are You?

Do you dream in hashtags? According to the government’s Chief Scientist, the web is redefining human identity, changing people’s views of who they are and their place in the world. It’s an addictive but questionable force.  So how do authors navigate these virtual choppy waters? Are they just procrastinating on Twitter? And what becomes of fragile egos in the hands of ruthless online avatars? Explore the fine line between social media success and social media suicide with authors Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Erin Kelly, Steve Mosby 
(pictured right), and Sarah Pinborough.  Giving them a #FF in this perfect ‘Follow Friday’ event is chair Mark Billingham. Join the conversation online live at #TOPCRIME2013
Book Online
Box Office: 01423 562 303
Sat 20 July | 12.00pm | £10

The return of the panel dedicated to showcasing the year’s most dazzling debut authors. Always a must-see, this event will see 2013 Programming Chair, Queen of Crime Val McDermid (pictured right), in the hot seat to present four of the brightest new talents on the scene, inviting them to discuss their debut novels. Eager readers on the lookout for the next big thing will discover a sure-fire list of ‘ones to watch’. Introducing Derek B. Miller (Norwegian by Night), Anya Lipska (Where The Devil Can’t Go), Malcolm Mackay (The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter) and Colette McBeth (Precious Thing)
Book Online
Box Office: 01423 562 303

Sun 21July | 10am | £10
PANEL DISCUSSION: Slaughtering The Sacred Cows
It sounds bloody. But then any subversive approach to stereotypes and conformity is bound to create a stir. Especially amongst the herd who like to play by the rules. But defying the rules in any art form gives rise to the development of new genres and styles. The crime genre has always had its bossy-boots critics ready to lay down the law about what a crime novel should be. But in this panel, iconoclastic authors Stuart MacBride, Catriona McPherson, Manda Scott and Cathi Unsworth speak to broadcaster Mark Lawson (pictured right), about breaking the mould, bending the rules, flouting the conventions, sticking their tongues out and generally pushing the boundaries of the genre. 
Book Online
Box Office: 01423 562 303
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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Iron Man 3 review

Went to see this with my family and our friends C, M and H at the Showcase today.  As big fans of Marvel (and the Iron Man franchise) we were all very much looking forward to the movie and we were not disappointed.

Robert Downey Junior (Sherlock Holmes, Road Trip) as Tony Stark was excellent as usual, with his egotistical brilliance tested to the limit following his recent Avengers experience.  His human side is shown to full effect when he suffers panic attacks thanks to his PTSD gained through learning about Gods and aliens in New York.  He is struggling to sleep and uses this 'down-time' to perfect his iron man suits, whilst his friend James Rhodes (Don Cheadle, best known for the brilliant Hotel Rwanda) has an upgraded suit of his own (War Machine is upgraded to Iron Patriot).  But Stark's arrogance goes too far when he threatens formidable terrorist Mandarin and he puts not just his own life, but those closest to him at risk.

Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow - Seven, Sliding Doors) plays a bigger role in this movie than is usual, as does Stark's 'bodyguard' Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Ty Simpkins (Insidious, Revolutionary Road) as Harley lends the film a lovely touch.  Guy Pearce (The Hurt Locker, L. A. Confidential) is unsettling as Aldrich Killian and I loved his little nod to Stark's fellow Avenger.

The humour excels itself in this movie, with more than one cheesy line, but Ben Kingsley in an unexpected twist steals the show.

9/10         Stay until the end of the credits.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Two free Crime Writing competitions

Been given the following information from my fellow blogger Blog About Writing:

GKBC - which stands for 'giving kudos to brilliant content' - is a collective of bloggers dedicated to offering inspiring content to help writers develop their online skills.

They’re are running a free short story competition - open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Your story (max 2000 words) needs to have a crime ‘theme’ but can be any ‘genre’ (so, it can be a romance, for example, but would need to include some kind of crime. They’re not necessarily looking for police procedure/detective type crime stories).

The winning entries will be announced at the end of September.

First prize is £100 + publication on the website + an author interview + the story will be the lead story in an anthology of short stories to be published by GKBCinc.

2 runners-up will receive a cash prize and have their stories published on the website and in the anthology and then a further 7 shortlisted entries will be published in the anthology (so that will be your 'prize' if you're one of the 7.

Cremona Hotel Crime Short Story Competition c/d 31st August

The Cremona hotel in Bournemouth is running a crime short story competition (open to residents of GB and N.I) and the prize is a weekend at the hotel on a b&b basis and £50 spends (bless, that’s not exactly a fortune is it? But it’ll buy you a few ice creams!). There are runners-up prizes of £25 and £15.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

New Writing North events

Thought I would share with my followers the information that New Writing North have sent me:

Emily Wilding Davison Centenary: writing competition
A national writing competition has just been launched as part of the Emily Inspires! programme of events to mark 100 years since the death of Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison from injuries sustained when struck by the King’s racehorse at Epsom Derby and to commemorate her Northumberland roots. The writing competition is run by audio entertainment site in partnership with Northumberland Libraries. Judges include writers Wendy Robertson, Michael Chaplin and Janet MacLeod Trotter. There will be first, second & third prizes for both national and best of Northumberland entries and the winning entries will be read out over the Emily Inspires! Centennial weekend in Morpeth (13-15 June) and recorded for For more information go to
Hexham Book Festival supports local charity with Angela Carter event
Queen’s Hall, Hexham: Wednesday 24 April, 6.30pm
Hexham Book Festival, which runs 24 April-2 May, is hosting an event with Susannah Clapp, talking about her friend, novelist Angela Carter, with 50% of the proceeds to the charity Bright at Hexham Hospital’s Breast Cancer Unit. Susannah, theatre critic for the Observer, will talk about her book, A Card from Angela Carter, which looks at how their friendship was charted via Carter’s anarchic postcards to her friend, giving a fresh insight into this enduringly appealing writer. Tickets: £8/£6 (concs) from or 01434 652 477.
Mslexia poetry and novel competitions
Mslexia, the magazine for women who write, has just launched two writing competitions for poets, and one for novelists. For poets of all levels and backgrounds, the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition for individual poems has a £2,000 first prize and is judged by Kathleen Jamie. For poets who have a small collection of their work, the Mslexia Women’s Pamphlet Competition is for collections of 18-20 poems of 20-24 pages, and the first prize is publication of the pamphlet by Seren Books. Deadline for both: 17 June.
For prose writers, there’s the 2013 Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition. The first prize is £5,000, and the judging panel is made up of three high-profile judges: BBC arts journalist Kirsty Lang, award-winning novelist Val McDermid, and literary agent Charlotte Robertson. The winner of the first Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition in 2011, Rosie Garland, has just seen her winning novel, The Palace of Curiosities, published by HarperCollins – so it really is a fantastic opportunity that opens doors beyond the initial prize, too. Deadline: 23 September, so you have enough time to really hone your entries.
Details for all competitions are at
Words Across Northumberland seeks writer in residence
Words Across Northumberland, run by Hexham Book Festival, is seeking a writer in residence for a three-day residency in Rothbury in June 2013, leading to the production of a piece of prose or poetry by the end of October 2013.
The aim of the residency is to enable the writer to spend a period of time, meeting staff and visitors and creating a story/collection of poems based around the theme of floods/flooding and climate change, inspired by the experiences of the local people. 
It is hoped that the residencies can take place by the end of June 2013. Deadline for applications: Tuesday 30 April 2013. For more information, click here.
ing groups and workshops
Back to Basics writing workshop
Bishop Auckland Town Hall: Wednesday 1, 8, 15 and 22 May, 2pm-4pm
Whether your aim is fiction, memoir, family stories or factual writing, join Bishop Auckland author Wendy Robertson in Back to Basics, a special series of four writing workshops across May. Tickets: £2 with information from Bishop Auckland Town Hall on 03000 269 524.

Writers’ retreat day
The Morritt, Greta Bridge, Barnard Castle: Wednesday 8 May 9.30am-3.30pm
This is a day for writers of all sorts who wish to dedicate time and space to their writing. The aim of the day is to focus on working on a personal project. Creative writing coach Judith Lesley Marshall will provide a selection of resources to facilitate the process. For further details see or telephone 07808 063944
Choreology: Dancing Poetry course with Poetry School
Alington House, Durham: fortnightly for five weeks from Wednesday 8 May, 7pm-9pm
There are many links between dance and poetry. Course tutor Gillian Allnutt will take up with some of them – with metre, movement, rhythm, pace – and lead the line a merry dance. Cost: £69, £62 (60+), £55 (concs). Book via The Poetry School at

.Harrogate Crimewriting Festival: Creative Thursday 2013
Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate: Thursday 18 July, 9am-6pm
The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s creative writing course for aspiring writers. Creative Thursday gives you the chance to hone your novel and short-story writing skills with a day-long programme of workshops and seminars led by bestselling crime writers, publishing industry professionals and real-life crime experts. Tickets: £99 per person. For more information, see

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Storyteller book review

I have just finished Jodi Picoult's new novel and if you are a regular follower, you will know I am a huge fan of Jodi.  The Storyteller is another fantastic read that delves into a fascinating and emotive subject, this time, the Holocaust. 

Sage Singer is a baker who hides from the world because of a car crash that left her face scarred and ultimately, killed her mother.  She has pushed both her sisters away because she thinks they blame her for the death of their mother and has embarked on an affair with a married man, believing that this is the only kind of love she deserves. 

At her grief group she befriends an old man, Josef Weber, who confesses to her that he is a Nazi and that he wants her to forgive him for his crimes and be the instrument of his mercy killing.  She is an atheist, but her grandmother Minka is a Jewish survivor and Sage takes the decision to report Josef to the authorities. 

Leo Stein works in the office of Human Rights and Special Prosecutions at the Justice Department and he helps Sage get Josef to reveal his real name, Reiner Hartmann, so they can get the wheels in motion to prosecute him for his crimes.  With her help, he builds an excellent case against him and enlists Sage's grandmother hoping her memory can help prove his guilt.

The story is written in Jodi's usual style of many perspectives (Sage, Josef, Minka and Leo), but also adds the vampire story that Minka was writing, which proved integral to her survival and mirrors the themes that run in the novel.  The Minka sections are particularly realistic (tissues anyone?) and give voice to the no doubt many hours of research that Jodi will have done on the Holocaust, but at no point does it feel like this.  You are transported there to that harrowing time through the memories of her character.

It took me longer than it usually does to get into this novel and I think this is because Sage is 'the other woman,' so I did not take to her character, but once Josef's past begins to be revealed and Minka's story began, I was pulled in irrevocably.

I did guess the twist quite early on however, but I think this says more about me (I am a writer - I guess most twists, whether it be in books, movies or tv and am particularly impressed if I don't see it coming - and have read all Jodi's books, so am atuned to her style ) than the plot.

I can highly recommend this book for both its moral complexity and unputdownability (this word should be in the dicionary and a picture of Jodi placed next to it) and although House Rules, and particularly its main character Jacob Hunt, remains my favourite Jodi Picoult novel, this makes my top three.


twitter @jodipicoult #thestoryteller to sign up to her newsletter

Having seen Jodi during her book tour for Sing You Home at Cleckheaton Town Hall in 2011, she revealed that Jacob Hunt is one of her favourite characters too and that she is not finished with him yet.  Jodi has brought many of her characters back, so fingers crossed that Jacob will get another full novel about his story soon. 

I now begin my wait for her next novel and here's hoping that it will feature Jacob.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Kirklees Library events

Diane Green has sent me the latest events for the local libraries that I thought my followers may be interested in.  Please find the full details below:

·         Stephen Booth at Birstall Library on Monday 22nd April, 7.30pm Stephen Booth is an award winning UK crime writer and a former newspaper journalist.  Already Dead is Stephen’s latest book featuring the Derbyshire CID

Tickets £2 from Birstall Library 01924 326227 or from any Kirklees box office 01484 223200 or on line at



·         Annabel Pitcher at Mirfield Library, Easthorpe Lodge, Mirfield.  Wednesday April 24, 7.30pm

A read regional event featuring Annabel Pitcher - a local author from Holmfirth and creator of ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece’ which deals with the tragedy of a family torn apart by a terrorist attack.

This sounds really interesting- a warm and funny approach to a traumatic story: Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a 'Fresh New Start'. Five years ago his sister's twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His parents are wrecked by their grief; Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart. But Jamie hasn't cried in all that time. To him Rose is just a distant memory.

Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his dad. And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago.

When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all.


Tickets £2 available from Mirfield Library 01924 326470, from any Kirklees box office 01484 223200 or on line at


·         Wednesday 1st May, 7.30-9.30pm  Marsden Library  £2 including refreshments.  The re-launch of Marsden Storytelling Club as Marsden Yarn Spinners. Come and tell a tale, play a tune, sing us a song, or simply listen and enjoy!  This is a small, welcoming group who love a good tale. You are most welcome to join us.  The 1st Wednesday of every month.


·         Huddersfield Library, Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield, Thursday May 2nd, 7.30pm to 9pm  

Pauline Plummer published her first collection of poetry in 1992 and since then other collections, readings, broadcasts, residencies and publications have followed.  This is a Read Regional event to celebrate her novella, From Here to Timbuktoo - an epic poem, a satire, a travelogue.


Tickets £2 from Huddersfield Library foyer or any Kirklees box office 01484 223200 or on line at



·         Shepley Library, Marsh Lane, Shepley, Huddersfield, Thursday May 9th, 7.30pm to 9pm

Alison Gangel is guest author and will be talking about her memoir in this Read Regional event.  Alison Gangel was born in Glasgow, into a family where alcoholism and domestic violence were the norm.

Her memoir, The Sun Hasn’t Fallen From the Sky, depicts this home life and the years she and her elder sister spent in care.

In the McGregor’s Orphan Homes, some things became immeasurably better. There was good food, an inspiring music teacher and a sackful of toys at Christmas. Others were dramatically worse: the threat of cruelty and sexual abuse was ever-present, while infrequent visits from her parents eventually dwindled out.

Yet the book steers clear of the deadening despair found in misery memoirs, offering something altogether more satisfying. The Sun Hasn’t Fallen From the Sky is a life seen through a child’s eyes, told with the honesty and lack of prejudice of someone who has known no other life. The book is not sentimental and neither is it bleak

Tickets £2 at the library, or from Kirklees booking office (Huddersfield Library foyer) or by contacting 01484 223200 or visiting the website at



·        Saturday Author Events at Huddersfield Library 11th May from 11.00 -12 noon  Gavin Extence author of The Universe versus Alex Woods which tracks wilful teenager Alex, who has a fascination with science and astronomy came about after he was put into a coma by a falling meteorite. When he breaks a window in next door's greenhouse, his mother insists that he offers to help out his elderly neighbour. A remarkable friendship develops the youngster and the reclusive Mr Peterson, Vietnam veteran, amputee, dope smoker and dedicated fan of Kurt Vonnegut

Tickets 50p include refreshments. From Huddersfield Visitor Centre in the library  and any box office. 01484 223200/222444 or on line at


·         Write out Loud.  Wednesday 15th May 7.30-9.30pm at Marsden Library.  £2 inc refreshments. Popular open mic poetry group- a friendly and supportive bunch hosted by Julian Jordan.  Whether you write your own or bring along a favourite poem or just come along to listen you are most welcomed.  The theme, which you can ignore if you wish, is Passage.

·         WILD DRUGS: Tuesday 21st May from 10-12 noon at Mirfield Library meet Sue Salmon, medical herbalist for a fascinating talk and easy health walk.  An event for adult learners week with Kirklees Libraries and the Health Walk team.  Sue will be promoting the book Wild Drugs. Learn about the healing power of hedgerow plants and enjoy a leisurely walk.

Book via the library on 01924 326470 or by email


·         WILD DRUGS: Tuesday 21st May from 1.30-3.30 at Meltham Library meet Sue Salmon, medical herbalist for a fascinating talk and easy health walk.  An event for adult learners week with Kirklees Libraries and the Health Walk team.  Sue will be promoting the book Wild Drugs. Learn about the healing power of hedgerow plants and enjoy a leisurely walk.

Book via the library on 01484 222606 or by email


·      Tuesday 21st May 7.30-9.00pm at Cleckheaton Library.  Mandasue Heller.  Come and meet and listen to best selling gritty crime author Mandasue Heller. 

Tickets £2 available from Cleckheaton Library Tel: 01274 335170 or from any Kirklees box office 01484 223200 or on line at



From Batley Writers; we have a Poetry in the Park at Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury on Saturday, May 18th at 1.30pm. The theme is The Seasons-Spring.
This event will be followed up later when Batley Writers theme the seasons on Saturday, July 13th (1.30), and Saturday, October 5th (1.30).

And in June some advance dates for your diary: Tuesday 11th June, 7.30-9.30pm at Birstall Library we have celebrated blind storyteller Giles Abbott telling Mongan’s Frenzy as part of the Make a Noise in Libraries fortnight: an annual RNIB event to bring together blind and partly sighted people and our Public Libraries. Mongan’s Frenzy is a wild Irish tale of love, greed, the wisdom of the gods and the folly of men.  £3/ £2 conc.  Tickets: soon available from Birstall library and any Kirklees box office 01484 223200 or on line at  Suitable for adults and older children 13yr+ 

On Wednesday 12th June,  he will be telling again at Huddersfield Town Hall: Patched and Mended- the intertwining of a Welsh myth with the personal story of how Giles lost his sight and found his path in life.  Tickets £2 soon available from Huddersfield Visitor Centre, any Kirklees box office 01484 223200 or on line at  For adults and 12yr+

For both these events tickets will be free for people who are registered blind or partially sighted.
And on Thursday 27th June 7.30-9.30pm at Huddersfield Town Hall we have a treat for poetry lovers.  Jo Haslam and Cristina Navazo- Eguia Newton with poetry performance from both interspersed with flamenco hondo singing from Spanish born Cristina.