Winter’s Holme


Broke off The Turning Stone now at 13k words to do a Winter themed story. This began with a visit to Farnworth Library three days back when we took Ted Hughes November as a starting point.

Ted Hughes with added gloom, after Reginald Gray (2004)

Ted Hughes, after Reginald Gray, 2004 (go see the original: Bankfield Museum, Halifax)

My creation became three linked stories set in a fantasy world where only the nomads of the Northland Steppes are fully free from the power of the all-conquering Kaiph. These take place in the Northland Steppes and consist of:

  • Winter’s Spite
  • Winter’s Gift
  • Winter’s Child

I’ll present my offering: Winter’s Gift, this coming Friday at Farnworth Library when Julie McKiernan hosts our second Winter Workshop. This will be 10am to noon..

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The Glass Fly


Took Irwell Writers session today and read from Kalila and Dimna — Selected Fables of Bidpai, as retold by Ramsay Wood*. Went on to an exercise in retelling fables, folk tales, sayings – let’s pretend we’re Walt Disney. My offering was The Glass Fly.

Kalila and Dimna, selected Fables of Bidpai, Retold by Ramsay Wood, Introduced by Doris Lessing

Kalila and Dimna, selected Fables of Bidpai, Retold by Ramsay Wood, Introduced by Doris Lessing

 

 

Paladin 1982 edition – ISBN 0586 08409 6

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Young Adult Novel


Am Writing

Following the Burnley Literary Festival I got an idea for a young adult fantasy novel. YA is something I’ve not really tried and my experience of reading that is years past – so why not? I started just over a week ago – the initial story line will look at how the fey were banished from earth, letting humans dominate the planet. Then it’ll move onto what would happen if they came back. I’m not settled on the outcome yet (i.e. does Faerie make a full return into the present) but it’s exciting and  should come to a good few books.

What’ll it be called?

The working title for the series is Elf Wars with The Turning Stone as the first book.

Fantasy has myth and heroic fable at its heart. What’s behind Elf Wars?

Real history. Just as there was a time when nations reached their greatest extent, e.g. Greater Persia (back before Alexander the Great conquered it), or a Greater Armenia (around 200 years BC); there’s also the concept of a Greater Europe. It’s only since the Renaissance that those with European roots were pushed back, West of the Urals. Pre-Mongol times it had a greater extent, taking in the Kazakh Steppes through to the Tarim Basin. Empires rise but and fall.

Teaser

At Empire’s end knowledge and ancient artefacts are lost or destroyed. Sometimes not everything is lost — even it it’s better that it is.

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Writing Groups near Burnley


Attending writing groups means many story starts. Over the past two years I’ve been to various groups:

Hasiwriters (based in Haslingden Library)
Irwell Writers (meet in the Mosses, Bury)
Holmfirth Writers (meet in Holmfirth Library)
Slaithwaite Writers (meet in Slaithwaite Library)
Drop-in Writing Workshop (meet in Brewed Coffee, Horwich)
Cheetham Street Writers (now closed)
Clayton-le-Moors Writers (now closed)
Freewriters (meet Bacup Library – library under closure threat)

Many libraries are under threat of closure. We know the reason why but that doesn’t mitigate the threat to one of the only vehicles to authors wanting a fully textured feedback. Groups per se aren’t a panacea to all writerly needs you need to know what you want and hope to find it, whether it’s genre feedback, a place to be sociable, somewhere to preach the merits of your latest masterpiece, get advice, make connections or whatever. They all have plusses and minuses. Some bemoan or eulogise whatever happens to be big in current affairs, others are rowdy social affairs where writing commitment is tested by wise-cracking folk of a slightly older generation. One or two struggle to function much beyond a bare framework of random, uninspiring idea prompts. They’re not all like that and with some effort you should be able to come away with narratives that you are comfortable with.
I’ve been going to writing groups since 2010 and religiously maintain an archive. They cover all genres. I’ve no preference for the short story form but I do note it is unsuitable for some of the ideas I plan on developing at some future point of time.

It’s easy to assume the stories may never see print but as someone with an eye on a potential publisher, I archive and organise them each year. The following list is date written / wordcount / title. Genre is excluded, but note I am unlikely to write anything that doesn’t have an element of the fantastic, or suspense (or some point if an anecdote).

Recent Stories (* = unfinished)

From 2015:

Date written Words Title
11/02/15 302 Oasis of the White Lily*
17/03/15 245 Sea Girl
05/05/15 442 Orphans
02/06/15 471 Dare in the Forest*
16/06/15 381 The Cockroach King
14/07/15 121 Our Garden
21/07/15 331 Dice of Destiny*
05/08/15 320 The Growper*
18/08/15 245 Rebellion
18/08/15 234 Part 2
30/08/15 1501 Kitten’s Play
01/09/15 378 Chicken Soup
01/09/15 271 The Truth
01/09/15 352 Nconnu*
06/10/15 240 Fog
20/10/15 171 Simon’s Dad
20/10/15 318 A Child in a Woman’s Body
03/11/15 399 Rudneth
17/11/15 106 Man Safe
17/11/15 488 The People with Wings
01/12/15 535 Venice
09/12/15 3022 I am Zhlogh
31/12/15 4030 Undercroft
06/08/15 301 North Manchester

From 2016:

Date written Words Title
05/01/2016 231 Parakeet
07/03/2016 87970 The Tau Device
17/05/2016 400 The Hnd*
07/06/2016 561 Backstory*
14/06/2016 221 Joy
20/06/2016 641 Circus in town*
21/06/2016 122 Proverbs
22/06/2016 200 The Hut
27/06/2016 374 Sunburn
02/07/2016 18363 Dragon Shard
04/07/2016 479 The Sin of Sloth
05/07/2016 53 The Glass Fly*
05/07/2016 334 The Watch
11/07/2016 233 Foreign world
20/07/2016 212 The Last Meeting
02/08/2016 509 The Mirror
11/09/2016 3282 Amibanu
11/09/2016 2293 Fickleday*
27/09/2016 118 Twilight on Vernon Street*
04/10/2016 185 Instructions for moving a planet
11/10/2016 208 Pub Grub
15/10/2016 404 Winter by the Sea
18/10/2016 214 The Thimble
23/10/2016 543 Reunion
27/10/2016 542 That Which Waits
01/11/2016 580 The Oath

* * *

At some point I’ll add some thoughts on the Sufi themed visit to Burnley Mechanics on 06/11/16.

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Burnley Literary Festival – day four Open-mic


How odd are the acoustics in my new home – the hoover seems to be in a different place according to where I sit in the bay window. I’m still ruminating on last night’s Open-mic session. I was late to the Mechanics because I wilfully misread the venue location, believing it to be the Paddock. Why? No idea. The site plainly says the mechanics. Get it wrong and you either give up and go home or stubbornly persist. I’m not powered by smartphone but by a process of trial and error, eventually worked out where it was. By eight o’ clock, or just after, I settled down in one of the naughty boys’ places, at the back. Open-mic has come late to me – I’ve seen it several times over the years


but never really engaged. However, earlier this year, I started doing Spoken Word at the Whitaker in Rawtenstall. We up to a point (I say we as when I started, I lived little more than a mile from it) defined the way it developed: poetry, performance / accompanied poetry and prose. Rawtenstall is small, so Burnley’s big.🙂

Mechanics Open-mic

Mechanics Open-mic

As things settled into place, I noted a couple of members from Burnley Writers. There were poems about foreigners (you’re not from Burnley), cowboys without guns, Lear style nonsense rhymes, children’s rhymes, things to be nostalgic about in 70s Burnley and You by Clare Shaw which stood out. I made a note of poem titles but as I look at it now, I’m dismayed at woeful a record it is. A performer list would have been handy (for blogging at least). As I chatted to a lyricist (also a hopeful North End fan) I began to realise there was plenty going on under the surface that just needed a little facilitating to deliver end product.

Mechanics Open-mic b

Mechanics Open-mic b

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Burnley Literary Festival – day three – The Faerie Chronicles


Life never runs smooth

… as the pet cat of my middle daughter, Streisand, has been diagnosed with a life threatening disorder which means he can’t toilet properly. His body is shutting down at barely two years old. This small crisis was still developing as I took my youngest daughter back to Chester university. I dropped her off spending enough time to receive an update on flatmate issues – university life takes no prisoners; the young have to learn social skills the hard way. Fortunately the motorway congestion of three days before was missing so I was able to trundle back home in in time to not completely write-off the afternoon – could I make the next event?
As it happened I wasn’t awfully late,


just a couple of minutes. The session began at 15:00 and was held in the basement of Burnley Central Library. Note to Library staff: many thanks for hosting the event but it can be tricky when non-event attendees aren’t quiet.

Helen Sutton in conversation with Brett Davison of BBC Radio Lancashire

+ readings

Helen Sutton is a YA Fantasy writer who comes from Burnley (yay!) She has self-published the rather successful Faerie Chronicles. This is a (projected) nine volume series of which she is currently on her sixth. Ms Sutton is in the fortunate position of having offspring who are at an appropriate age to do serious quality control. Her readings bear witness to this – in particular the dialogue. More reading would have been useful.
Brett Davison (BBC radio Lancashire) covered a number of areas with Helen. I was impressed by her gung-ho spirit – blasting out a first draft in a matter of weeks – wow! As a child she read prodigiously and her storytelling bug manifested itself quite early, only abating as family responsibilities came to the fore. She is a library lover and blames this on her parents. As her children grew older, she drifted back to writing and made the transition to self-publishing. She unashamedly loots legends and myths from around the world – don’t we all? – and hasn’t looked back.

I suspect some of her comments would be of interest those wanting to know more about self-publishing. To give a flavour, I reproduce my notes *

  • Forget fantasy is nonsense, if you want to write it, write it. Remember, you can use it explore real-world issues in a non-threatening way.
  • Ideas: If a great twist presents itself, don’t hold back. Use it. Other great ideas will present themselves at the right time. Research, always research. Mining themes will become second nature as you progress.
  • How do you write? Compressed inspiration.
  • Quickly summarise the Faerie Chronicles: a series exploring characters and (fae) races.
  • Writing is nailing jelly to a wall. Don’t overthink, it’s only first draft. Finish it.

* As this was done under the aegis of BBC Radio Lancashire it wouldn’t be a surprise if a full transcript was available.

Conclusion: What she writes isn’t what I do but I love her enthusiasm.

Conclusion 2: I was too busy making notes to use my camera so no pictures  :-(

Books were on display (prices £9 / £10) including:

Helen Sutton: Fated - front cover

Helen Sutton: Fated

Helen Sutton: Tainted - front cover

Helen Sutton: Tainted

The Faerie Chronicles can be found on the net. The series is for Young Adults / Teenagers at Heart. Check out Helen Sutton’s Goodreads profile.

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Burnley Literary Festival – Day Two


This Sunday

…like every Sunday was family visits day. What makes it different is it’s Jen’s birthday. It’s going to be a cooking and meals with the children day. I walked the dogs and followed this up with a two hour shop as ASDA, Accrington. I don’t remember why I chose that store but I was rewarded with a checkout delay as the store announced “There is a problem with using some chip and pin cards for payment. We apologise for any inconvenience.”  This is the way the world ends I thought as I watched a woman in the front of the queue vainly try to pay for her goods. I repeated the thought to


the gentleman directly in front of me and, studying the contents of his shop which included a set of light fittings I added, “Things could prove sticky for those with insufficient cash.”

While the woman in front of him waited he took the opportunity to study the contents of his wallet and made a tactical decision – the light fittings were put to one side. Soon she and her shopping were ushered away, perhaps to trial some other means of taking payment, and it was his turn. He tested his card for its paying power which as suspected, failed. However his tactical decision proved a success. He had just enough cash to cover the balance of his shop.
“You’re right,” he said to me, “this is how the world will end.”
I paid cash. What a headache it is if systems fail (my first novel has civilisation end this way). And by the way I had a headache too.

The shopping was delivered back home to in time to see Craig (Jen’s brother) plus Helen, and Ian (Craig’s son) plus Lauren return from a dog walk. They’d brought Lola (new dog) and Jake (old collie). Margaret (Jen’s sister) was due soon for an extended cooking session in the kitchen.  With three hours spare I went to Burnley for day two of the festival. As I’d decided on Aziz Dixon, emerging poet, I headed for Burnley Central Methodist Church – or at least I thought so – ending up at the Sion Baptist Church on Church Street. How well did I know Burnley? As a result I arrived ten minutes late.

Aziz Dixon – Poet Emerging tour

Edmund Aziz Dixon reading on his 'Poet Emerging' tour

Aziz Dixon reading 1

Aziz completed explaining his name which has a connection with Sufism I didn’t catch and launched into poetry. Each poem was accompanied by a brief, informative introduction. Many of them are set in and around the Rossendale area. They dwell on the moors, the landscape of the area, old buildings, everyday life, often have wry wit and are well delivered. Half way through there was a break for a brew and I wandered over to look at his books (see later).

Edmund Aziz Dixon reading on his 'Poet Emerging' tour

Aziz Dixon reading 2

After the break his reading sandwiched some poetry by published poet Hannah Stone (also his sister). His work flowed naturally, there was little evidence of forced rhyme or overly emotive language, his delivery was a good match for the content and there was a lot to take away. This event coincides with the release of his latest volume: Poet Emerging. I recommend tracking him down. One to watch for the future – five out of five. Aziz has been writing since early 2015. He has a number of volumes which are produced through Createspace.  These are:

River and Hills: voices of Irwell: Poem Seeds
Paper Landscapes
Quince Memories
North Wales Pilgrim: a poetic journey: reflections on a pilgrimage from Holywell to Bardsey
Sufi Sunrise
Shells of thoughts and feelings
Poet Emerging

Goodreads author profile

Sufi Sunrise ISBN 978-1516973798

Sufi Sunrise

Outside poetry, he has followed a Sufi path, within the Chishti order, for a number of years. Aziz is his Sufi name. The Sufi orders originated in Central Asia. It is claimed that at one time they operated solely in and through Islam; if that was ever the case it is no longer so.

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Burnley Literary Festival – Day One


Saturday, 29th October 2016 is day one of Burnley Literary Festival. Burnley is six miles away and earlier today I went to see how things were getting started.

Event 1 Sheena Byrom – midwife

from the site

from the site – Sheena Byrom midwife

My first port of call was Burnley Central Library at 11:00. BBC Radio Lancashire were set up to interview Sheena Byrom who, for many years has worked in midwifery. Before we go into details I should note that on account of her views, Sheena has been labelled a feminist. All I saw was common sense observation.


I arrived five minutes before ‘kick-off’ and was in time to see the final setup by Radio Lancs – I have to admit I wasn’t expecting them to be there – on the other had this was the first event of Burnley’s first Literary Festival – the mayor of Burnley was there and Sheena was very accomplished. It wasn’t clear at first where the event was to be held but by peering into the main room, I picked out where folk where gathering, they were on the right.

Lord Mayor of Burnley Jeff Sumner

The interview looked at the origins of her interest in midwifery and went on to cover how that led to her books, the subsequent championing of a gentler, compassionate, more caring approach to childbirth. What was plain was her concern that the current approach in treating childbirth as a factory process, sets unrealistic expectations. Childbirth is dehumanised which in turn causes unwanted and unnecessary stress. She put her points well and her works would make good reading for those concerned about the birthing process. We need to get birth right yet there’s increasing evidence that current thinking is too mechanistic and inflexible.

At the conclusion, the audience were invited to make comments and I manfully pitched (with my industrial background).

Sheena Byrom being interviewed by BBC radio Lancashire

Sheena Byrom being interviewed

Sheena comes from Burnley, learned nursing in Blackburn and went on to become a midwife in Burnley. Her books include Catching Babies and The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care.

Her event was a good showcase for the festival.

4 out of 5

I left the event feeling informed – the interviewer let her make her case. She’s my age but I don’t remember her  –Burnley’s not that small! There was just oven one hour to the next events with a choice of either Livi Michael – historical novelist or story telling with Sue Allonby. Livi’s session is at the Paddock; as I will be doing an open-mic slot there on 03/11/2016, this seemed a good way to check things out.

In due course I walk from Burnley Central Library, past Burnley Police Station, down Grimshaw St. The pavement has a hardened patches of white – choddy (old chewing gum) spat out onto the street and hardened by careless feet.

Event 2 Livi Michael – Historical Novelist

29/10/2016

from the site again

Our venue, the Paddock, is a single, stand alone room alcoholic and non-alcoholic (not the Cocktail and Coffee bar). I arrived barely in time but needn’t have worried, our Ms Livi Michael was fiddling with a projector trying to get a decent image. Livi began her session by running through her research in order to place her main subject Margaret Beaufort – mother of Henry VII, grandmother of Henry VIII.

For the most part Livi didn’t talk about her books – she went through some of her research which dealt with the Hundred Years War, the feuding between the branches of the Tudor dynasty and the War of the Roses. She demonstrated connections between local places, especially Manchester, and the characters she researched. If I’d known Livi planned on asking questions about that time and place, I’d have boned up. As things worked out, the session felt more like a lesson in class than a writer selling her latest masterpiece.  Clearly Livi knows her research, but their results can wait till I open the pages. She didn’t read any extracts, the presentation was experimental and needed to be tightened up. Several attendees left during the event. Come on Penguin – Livi is your author – make it easy for readers to engage. Introduce herself, her work, the context of this talk, ease us in.

The War of the Roses forms part of a picture that sets the scene for the beginnings of Western Civilisation – it’s the tiny part whose main consequence is that the Angevin legacy on the continent ends.  Or if you’re a Science Fantasy fan it’s the model used by Roger Zelazny in his Amber series of books. 

Livi has produced three historical novels: Succession, Accession, Rebellion; and a body of work outside that field. It surprised me to discover she has written on the process of writing and continues to lecture in creative writing.

 

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Burnley Literary Festival


About a month ago we finished moving home. We left Helmshore, Lancashire for the delights of Accrington. I think the dogs acclimatised best (new sights, smells and places to do their dumps) – and after them the cat. Relatives turn up and just expect you to drop everything and ‘have a brew’, but there’s so much to sort. We’re still sorting out the aftermath. Have gradually worked through the issues – offline, no TV, phone, broadband for weeks. It makes you realise just how awkward modern systems are. Anyway I just found out Burnley have drummed up their first literary festival. How good is that? I missed the build up – not having lived in the town for years and then there’s the move… I’m still unpacking and deciding what to dump


– I decided I’ll have to let go my early (1970s) UK Marvels  –the Mighty World of Marvel etc. Not worth much but they’re worth even less cluttering up the bedroom.

Mighty World of Marvel #1

Mighty World of Marvel #1

Going back to the Burnley Literary Festival, this is on from Saturday 29th October through to Monday 7th November 2016. That’s ten whole days! It’s also got Arts Council England support. There’ll be an Open-Mic event at The Paddock which will include performances by local poets, writers, etc. This is on Thursday, 3rd November 2016, 7:30 pm till late and The Paddock is on Hammerton Street, BB11 1NA. I’ll be there to read out poems and maybe an extract of two.

There’s other stuff going on, for more details check out Burnley Literary Festival.

 

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Web Admin


Another web admin update.

With the closure of My Telegraph, my stories are now posted on DeviantArt

Added a site for Lucky. Lucky is a work in progress and the pages on this site have also been updated.

 


Round-up of book sites:

Lucky

The Tau Device

Burnley

A Guide to First Contact


Writing group collections

Has You Like It (Haswriters)

36 Short Stories (Creative Writers on My Telegraph)


Where to find my books:

On Kindle: books by Terence Park

On Lulu: print-on-demand books

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