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Jonathan’s Jottings October 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 5th October 2018, Orchard House Care Centre. No Make-it-yourself coffee and tea. Water from tap, but no glasses. Very hot room.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 2nd November 2018, Orchard House again.


Maggie, Martin, Tony, David, Jonathan, Fiona, Jenni, Aidan, Bev and Freda.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie drew our attention to this year’s Isle of Wight Society for the Blind Short Story competition. Entries must be n by 9th November 2018. You can download your entry form here:


Since I won last year I shall be entering again, but I have absolutely no chance of winning twice. I know there’s a club for people who have been struck by lightning twice, but there’s no chance of it happening again to me. So the field’s wide open. Go for it.

We discussed the lack of support from Orchard House again, with nobody responsible being available, and no coffee or tea or hot water or glasses even for cold water, and we have decided to try to find another venue somewhere in the middle of the Island that might be able to accommodate us. It needs to be free, large enough, and it needs facilities for drinks etc. If any of you know of such a place, please get in touch with Jenni or Maggie.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Martin hasn’t done much editing. He has received good feedback from his beta readers, and has started his ‘Hard Edit’. It sounds painful. He’s looking forward to starting the next one.

We had a long discussion about plotting, and how often a story or book writes itself and the characters take over and argue. I love that moment.

Tony has been busy. He’s got a commission for Halloween at Blackgang Chine, and a Gothic Circus coming up, and he’s busy making prints to sell at ComicCon. He has also got a commission to paint a whole hotel in Shanklin. Watch out for photos on social media.

David has been out with his band, busking in Busy Bee, collecting for the Hospice. He read his latest poem about White Vans to us, and then a poem about a Wedding Photo. Greatly appreciated. He probably won’t play Santa this year, because he didn’t feel that the whole thing was treated with the right reverence last year, and became rather a money-driven circus.

Jonathan: I saved my bacon this month because I have been reading my (currently) novella about being stuck in a bomb explosion situation. I’ve got a working title of ‘Boom’, and I’m trying to get it to work but I’m not sure I ever will. I’m also not sure about the ending, but I can’t imagine what else I can do right now. Once I have a working version I’m quite happy to put it in the ‘Shorts’ so people can read it if they want. I’m also going to start writing Christmas stories, and enter at least one in the competition. See above.

There was a long discussion about plotting and character, and what we write and why we write and about being writers even though we may not be currently writing, and why we keep turning up to thee meetings even if we have nothing to show ‘this month’. It was all very gratifying.

And I’m still churning out my column, almost every weekend.

Fiona is still volunteering at the Zoo. She is now a very responsible dangerous wild cat keeper, and spends a lot of time not being eaten. She has completed or is in the middle of most of her 50 challenges for the year, and is about to take part in a Trapeze course. Shudder!

She hasn’t written any fiction, because she feels that she hasn’t a fiction bone in her body, and should stick to non-fiction, which she is so good at.

Jenni has been writing. She has 8 stories in various stages of preparation and completion, and a Christmas story. She aims to complete the 8 stories, which share a loose theme, and then self-publish, to see how it works, and then plans to publish a book of stories by us, the members of this fair writing group.

Aidan has written two prose pieces for his Facebook page. He feels he has lost the thread a bit, because of being so bored at work, since the season has effectively ended but he’s still there, dealing with very few customers. He’s hoping he’ll perk up soon, when his period of employment is over.

Bev is writing short stories. She has completed two, and has sent them out and received good feedback. She isn’t doing so much painting at the moment, partly because she’s selling her house, but she has been weaving quite a lot.

Freda has been crying softly to herself, because she’s unlucky in love. Her Prince Charming has turned out to be less charming than he should have been, and she is looking for someone to love and look after. So if you know someone who would fit the bill, do let her know. She continues to write poetry.

End notes

I wasn’t able to attend the September meeting, and there weren’t any Jottings. I thought about knocking up some fake Jottings, just to see if anyone noticed, but I stopped myself just in case nobody actually noticed.

I won’t be able to come to the next meeting, so there’s an opportunity for any of you to engage in the wonderful world of Jottings for yourself. It’s easy. You try not to fall asleep, write down a word of two in a notebook, and then make most of it up. I’ll be running a quiz on the night, so I have a legitimate reason for not attending.

I won’t be at the December meeting either, because I had  the difficult decision of attending Bach’s Christmas Oratorio right in the middle of the front row at St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square instead. It was hard, but in the end Bach won out. It’ll be a life-affirming and life-changing experience for me. I know it’s religious and all that, but it’s the music. Ever since the Sixties ended, I’ve been looking for something to give me joy and peace and love, and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio does that for me nowadays. I shall be living in bliss. And someone will have to do the Jottings again. I’ll be back in January though. Have a great time until then.

This meeting was fun, despite the lack of refreshments, and stimulating too. Thank you all.

The next meeting will be on Friday 2nd November at Orchard House. I won’t see you then, but I’ll miss you all.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.

Jonathan's Jottings October 2018

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Jonathan’s Jottings August 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 3rd August 2018, Orchard House Care Centre. Make-it-yourself coffee and tea. On a diet anyway.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 7th September 2018, Orchard House again.


Maggie, Aidan, Irene, Michelle, Tony, Mary, Martin, Fiona, Jonathan, Freda, Jenni and David.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie reminded us that our contributions each month, should we be willing to put money in the pot, will be given to the management at Orchard House in December as a thank-you for allowing us to meet there.

We all agreed to keep it reasonably short because of the continuing intense heat.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Aidan hasn’t done much because of the heat. He has been making notes, and studying Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Norse, so he can use names that feel right for all his characters.

Irene promised to write three chapters, and she has. Well done! This is an inspiration! She now has seven chapters of her book written, and has promised to write three more in the coming month.

Michelle has not had a lot of time to write, mainly because of her children. She has managed to write two chapters, but has made the mistake of editing these each time before writing anything new, and as an inevitable result, has failed to write anything new. We all told her to stop that, and just get on with writing the thing. Afterwards she can edit to her heart’s content.

Her book has evolved from a romance to a horror story, and is taking place in Ventnor.

Tony has been painting his trademark eyeball a lot lately. He’s involved with Ventnor Fringe, up in the cemetery, painting on recycled scrap. He’s very excited about the Peruvian street artist Phlegm, who’s going to paint a huge mural on a wall in Ventnor.

Mary has taken two weeks off from writing for the first time in five years. She also had a scary experience doing a live video on Facebook, talking about writing and answering questions. It’s available to see if you want to. She’ll put it on her own website. She really enjoyed it, and apparently she gave a very good account of herself. Well done!

Martin is nearing the end of his long editing period. On Chapter 29, with one more chapter to go. He’s discovered that the secret to successful editing during a heatwave is investing in an industrial fan. We’re wondering what he’s going to do when he finishes editing.

Fiona has been preparing  press releases for Tony. They have received application forms for the Flightless programme, which w2ilkl air for seven weeks in October and November. They’re hoping to be selected for the epic trip from England to somewhere in the Middle East w2ithout leaving the ground, and accompanied by a camera crew. It sounds extraordinary, and very exciting. Let’s hope their application is successful.

She is writing a story about a zoo, and asked the group if we think she can give animals voices and allow them to talk. We generally said that in children’s books, anything goes. Good luck with that.

Jonathan: I finally talked about my second novel. I didn’t choose this, but it forced itself on me. The idea is about as impossible for a story as it could be. Basically, there is only one character, no time passes, there is no movement at all, nothing happens, and it’s all inexplicable. I have written about 40,000 words so far, I’ve come to an end, but I have no idea if it’s any good or not.

The idea is this: A young man is sitting in a crowded coffee shop before work one morning, stirring his coffee, and he’s thinking, about stuff, because that’s what he does. He happens to be thinking about time, and at that moment, three things happen. He notices a man with a rucksack start to explode, at the same moment he sees the girl he loves coming in the door, and everything stops still. It’s like a still from a film, He’s in mid-stir, the man’s head is coming apart unpleasantly, he can’t move, but his mind is working.

That’s the set-up.

Everyone listened to this very politely, without saying how insane this idea is, and they asked questions, and I answered as much as I could without giving away spoilers. I have an ending, but I don’t know whether it’ good enough. I said I would read it all again in the coming month and decide what to do about it. Whatever else I do, I will write 3000 words, or three chapters. Of something.

Freda has been away with her family. She went to Treorchy, which is just like Sandown. She met a lady poet and professor, and talked about poetry, and listened to this lady read her verse. She will write a poetic response. We became a little confused about whether she’s going to become a grandmother or a great-grandmother, or even more than that.

Jenni has suffered injuries, and has suffered in the heat. But she has three ideas for short stories and three drafts. She had an idea for a Science Fiction book, and intends to write some chapters by December. Her problem is that everything is in her head, and she knows she has to convert all of it into files in her computer, but it’s a bit of a daunting task. Good luck with that.

David has being doing gigs in aid of the Hospice. He’s still writing one poem each week for his poetry group. His New Zealand family is visiting. He read us his latest poem, called Pink Thoughts, about working in a department store. Excellent.

End notes

We had another enjoyable meeting, and talked about a wide range of topics, and everyone went away with a mixture of inspiration and incredulity and puzzlement in our heads. Well, at least I did…

We all get so much from these meetings. That’s why our group is so vibrant and lively, and why we all keep turning up every month. It’s a good place for us to open our hearts and minds, without fear of ridicule or criticism, where we can say what we can’t say to anyone who doesn’t write or create themselves.

It’s often said that writing is a solitary and lonely occupation, and it is generally, but we have a place where we can come and be ourselves, as our writing selves, and it feels good. I hope we continue to meet for a long time. I appreciate every one of you, and every meeting I attend. Thank you all.

The next meeting will be on Friday 7th September at Orchard House. See you then. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.


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Jonathan’s Jottings July 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 6th July 2018, Orchard House Care Centre. Make-it-yourself coffee and tea. ON a diet anyway.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 3rd August 2018, Orchard House again.


Maggie, Andrew, Erica, Jonathan, Julie, Aidan, Anna, Fred, Martin, Irene, and Bev.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie announced that her publisher, Alfie Dog Fiction, is gradually easing down on its work, prior to shutting down. Sher will find another publisher onc3e she starts to produce her own work and has finished sorting out her house and garden.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Andrew quite rightly asked me to amend some of my comments in past jottings, as below. I’m always happy to do this, because my memory isn’t what it used to be:

May: I wasn’t the winner of a short story competition in 2011 but placed second in the Isle of Wight Crime and Intrigue Competition, which I won the next year  resulting in my being invited to join Wight Fair Writers’ Circle in 2012.  I didn’t really “do the usual publishing thing”.  What happened was that I then wrote a novel in which an Agent showed interest, requesting a re-write and working on it with me for a couple of months before deciding that, despite liking the writing, she’d find it difficult to place.  After this, it didn’t “go quiet” because I was still writing short stories, which placed in competitions or were published – for example, during this period I became a “regular contributor” to Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special.  I started the YA novel alongside this other writing.

June: It wasn’t that I was wondering whether anyone read the blog – it seems to be getting the views/shares; it was a question of whether I was reaching the target audience: writers,  people who hope to write or are interested in writing.  

He was kind enough to suggest that I had inspired him to revisit his blog, and he came up with this idea:

What I’m planning to do in future is to have two sorts of post – one about writing technique, the other about the writing life.

I propose increasing this variety further by doing two collaborative posts, one based upon group members’ top tips on writing technique, the other based upon group members’ tips relating to the writer’s life.  Everyone included would be fully credited.  If those who are interested could bring their ideas to September’s meeting that would be great.

The other news I shared concerns my work with Independent Arts.  As part of their Time & Tide project, I have been delivering creative-writing sessions in a local sheltered accommodation provision.  The residents I worked with made this a delight.

Everyone has ideas and tips. We should take up Andrew’s idea and give these to him in September.

Erica told us she has been long-listed for the OWT (Online Writing Tips) short story competition. Good luck with that.

She’s fed up with getting rejections, and she told us about a friend who has a ‘Rejection Jar’. Every time she has a rejection, she puts 5 Euros in it, and one day these rejections will pay for a treat or a holiday. We all thought that was a great idea.

She also related a comment by one of the OWT judges. If you’re not getting rejections, you’re not trying!

She is rewriting her novel.

Jonathan: I mentioned that I’m keeping up with my columns and reviews and the jottings, but I’m making no headway with the novel.  Read many great books by brilliant authors, and I don’t quite believe that I could be as good as them, or that I could ever produce anything that a publisher would agree to make into a book, and the whole novel thing is so long and hard and time-consuming, and I just don’t seem to find the time for it, even though I’m not working. This brought on a very good and helpful discussion about how we manage to start and keep going and make the time for our writing. It boils down to being somewhat selfish and obstinate, and just getting down to it. There was talk about other people not understanding what this writing thing is, and expecting us to prioritise our lives differently. There was also talk about guilt, both for not spending enough time on our writing and for spending too much time on our writing and not on other things that other people might think were more important.

We came to no conclusion, but there were lots of ideas to think about. Thank you all.

Julie has been to Ireland, driving around the South West Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way, and now has another idea for a travel piece. She stayed at peoples’ homes, using Homestay, a bit like Air BnB

She bought in and passed round the National Express magazine (The View), which published her previous piece.

Aidan has stocked Ryde Bookshop with his wedding book, and one other. He hasn’t received an answer from Waterstones or the County Pres shops yet. He has found the weather too hot to write.

Anna has been busy. She has submitted her book to another agent. She hasn’t heard from the others. She’s feeling flat, and isn’t prioritising properly.

Probably the weather again. Things will look up.

Fred haws had another short-listing in a competition, but he gets depressed and frustrated because he wants to do better. There was a discussion about what this means, and the chances of winning, and the lack of guarantee that the best story will win anyway, because it depends on so many factors, particularly the mood of the final readers. He was mollified by the idea that every story in good competitions gets read several times, and that being listed is a real achievement, even though winning is much more of a lottery.

We also reassured Fred that he is a good writer, but that there’s no mechanism or process for success, which doesn’t always rely on good writing anyway.

He described that he is uncompromising in his writing life, and head refused to go to social occasions with his wife because he was writing. We were all shocked, but also very impressed.

Martin has been writing. He has two chapters left in his epic rewrite of his second novel, and can’t wait to finish it. He also has a website now.

Irene has been doing voluntary legal work, and finds it hard to refuse to help people. Otherwise she has no excuse for not writing, apart from family stuff and it’s too hot.

She has committed to writing two or three chapters by the next meeting. We shall see whether she has or not…

Bev still has no PC. That needs to be sorted properly and fast. In the meantime, she’s been emailing snippets.

She has been creating art, and has been dying using natural things, like rose petals and rust, and is enjoying that very much.

End notes

There were fewer of us, probably because of the weather, but we managed to fill the time with lively discussion and a lot of good ideas. There was plenty to take away to mull over.

The next meeting will be on Friday 3rd August at Orchard House. See you then. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.

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Jonathan’s Jottings June 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 1st June 2018, Orchard House Care Centre. Make-it-yourself coffee and tea, nice cakes and biscuits. Some of them were reputed to be sugar-free. Or maybe fat-free, or perhaps nutrition-free. I tried them all, of course. Very tasty.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 6th July 2018, Orchard House again.


Maggie, Jenni, Sarah, Mary, Erica, Anna, Jonathan, Freda, Julie, Fiona, Fred, Tony, Diana, Aidan, Martin, Irene, Bev, Lucy, Andrew and David.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie thanked Anna for finding Orchard House for our new regular venue.

Jenni read out some emails, and announced that we currently have 6 potential members on the waiting list.

There’s a talk by Rebecca Alexander at Lord Louis Library (not The Library) on 16th June, about her writing life and how she got published. She is also willing to meet us if we want.

The response to using Orchard House was generally positive, although some of us forgot that we start at 7:00pm rather than 7:30, and there was some confusion about getting in and what room we were supposed to meet in. Apparently the manager was off sick, and was the only person with the keycode, but we were very comfortable in the restaurant. It was good to be able to get our own drinks, and we were undisturbed for the duration  of the meeting.,

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Sarah Blackwell talked about her portfolio and passed a lot of brilliant drawings around for us to appreciate. They were very good. She wants to find ways of collaborating with writers and getting published if possible. She likes drawing monsters, and does good wildlife pictures too. She also mentioned Workaway, where you can arrange to go and stay somewhere, like a farm, and work for free for a while, to gain experience and creative stimulation.

Mary told us about her book, doing fine on the internet, making sales and getting good reviews. She is 10 chapters into her new book, and working hard. It’s a whodunit, and she’s enjoying the process very much. She hopes to be finished and published by the end of the year.

Erica has gone back to the drawing board for more research, because she has realised that her new book is going on a new direction. She’s writing short stories for practice. Her first book was dropped by her agent despite initial interest. It needs a good edit, apparently. Her solution is now to start her own publishing house. We might all be sending her our books soon. Imagine the complications in deciding who to publish and who to reject ! That would be a minefield. Good luck with all that. She also mentioned White Lines, a monthly event at Quay Arts, where anyone can go and read their work, either poetry or short stories or excerpts from their WIP. She said there are not enough prose writers. The next one is on 6th June, and they’re monthly.

Anna applied and received funding for a writing retreat in Yorkshire, run by Steffie Buckland. She’s really looking forward to it. Her first book is still with the agent, her second book is being edited, and her third book is still in draft.

Jonathan explained that life became rather complicated last month, and apologised for last month’s jottings being so late. There was a house move, and various life complications, which isn’t an excuse. He also missed several weekly columns. The problem seems to be the desire to write a great novel, but reading many wonderful books, which dampens the expectation of getting anywhere. He just needs to buck up and get on with it. Hopefully once the new house is sorted out, there will be time to do that.

Freda isn’t going to write any more novels, because it’s so much effort to get the thing written, and she can’t face the idea of having to get it published, so she’s going to stick to poetry, unless someone can be persuaded to turn her book into a sitcom. Her Royal Wedding poem was published in the County Press, but they thought it was two poems.  She also wrote the lyrics for a song, but can’t write music. She did that once before, and found a musician to put her words to music. The only response was that it was a great tune but the lyrics were rubbish! I’m glad she wasn’t put off by that though.

Julie has been writing travel pieces, mainly about Italy. She has had two accepted for the National Express magazine, and for Around the World in 80 Pages. She has been writing 50-word flash fiction.

Fiona is back from her epic trip around the Outer Hebrides. She’s now doing R & D for articles about it. She made good contacts with the editors of Country Walking and Countryfile magazines, who are interested in her pieces. Good luck with that. Apparently they don’t usually ask for photos, because they prefer to use their own stock photos. She brought in 72 old Writing Magazines for anyone to read or take away. Thanks for that.

Fred has now been upgraded to the Nottingham Shortlist rather than the longlist. Well done! He entered a humorous poem in  an Irish competition, and he’s going to enter his latest book in the Richard and Judy new novel competition, to be announced on 16th June. The first prize is apparently £30,000 and a publishing deal. Watch that space! He’s now 70k words into his fourth book. The man  is a writing powerhouse.

Tony was travelling with Fina. While he was away, much of his fantastic work for the Beach Cafe was destroyed because the Council condemned he stairs to the upper terrace, so he’ll have to repaint a lot of it. Apparently there was no disability access. While away he revisited Glasgow, and the Print House Gallery there. He’s been asked to contribute a painted sheet for the fence of the One Life Festival. He’ll be providing a workshop on Street Art at Lord Louis Library (not The Library) on 9th June. Should be good.

Diana has been very successful with Plots and Plotting in the U.S.A., but not over here. It has been published by amazon.com, instead of amazon.co.uk, which doesn’t help. The Japanese don’t like foxes, but hedgehogs are good, as well as squirrels, so she’s going to write a book featuring a hedgehog and a squirrel, and one with a cat and a Highland Terrier puppy, which will take up all her summer. She’s having a problem with her English publisher about re-releasing her previous books, because they insist on putting fluffy kitten photos on the covers, whether they’re appropriate or not, unlike the Japanese, who use very good relevant illustrations, and consequently sell very well.

Aidan showed us the published version of his wedding book, and is planning to sell them himself. He’s looking for venues. Ryde Bookshop and Babushka Books in Shanklin were mentioned. He has been writing flash proses, which will appear on his website soon.

Martin is still slogging away on his epic rewrite, now on chapter 26 of 30, so he’s near the end. Good luck with it. May the reviews be excellent! People who have read it so far are all positive about it.

Irene has handed over the Lottery money to Brading Drama Club, and isn’t going to be involved any more, because she wants to concentrate on her writing. She’s written 5/6 chapters of her new book.

Bev had an idea, and is working through it. She has written 12k words so far. Her main problems are creativity peaks at 3:00am, and an antediluvian PC that keeps crashing. Her daughter has taken it away to attempt some kind or reboot or repair, so she’s making slow progress. It’s about an urban couple arriving in a village, and the inevitable clashes and complications.

Lucy hasn’t achieved much with her time-travel novel, but the good news is that I did see it in the shops last time I time-travelled myself. Sadly I wasn’t able to read it, because I only get Economy time-travel, which is observation only… She is writing the first chapter of her egg-donation novel, but she hasn’t set up her website or done her editing course yet. It’s all in the future!

Andrew has written two novels but neither has been published, so he’s concentrating on short stories for competitions and magazines. He’s continuing his writing tutor work, but his blog feels dry and unexciting, and he wonders whether anyone reads it. There was a discussion about blogs, and the need to write for yourself, and make sure it’s varied and interesting, otherwise it can become a chore.

David has been writing his poetry. He has been donating his CD to the Hospice shop. He‘s been going to Waterstones to read, and he had a poem printed by the Daily Mail, although they mis-spelt his name and got the title wrong. He read us hoi sates poem, called A Thing of Beauty, about the life of a banana. Very moving.

End notes

We all managed to have time to talk about our progress and news, and we finished on time even though our start was delayed, so it was a good meeting, with lots of things mentioned to think about. We all liked the new venue, and it’ll be easier next time, because we’ll all know where to go and what to do. Hopefully we’ll have a room to ourselves too. We welcomed a new member and the return of a previous member, and we were all stimulated in a creative way. We had our photo taken too.

 The next meeting will be on Friday 6th July at Orchard House. See you then. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.


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Jonathan’s Jottings May 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 43th May 2018, Lord Louis Library, Newport. Make-it-yourself coffee, nice cakes and biscuits. Can’t complain.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 1st June 2018, New venue – Orchard House Care Centre, 189 Fairlee Road, Newport  PO30 2EP


Maggie, Jenni, Diana, Tony, Fiona, Jonathan, Andrew, Sue, Martin, Anna, Yvie, Aidan and Freda.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie announced that Maggie Currie will have children’s stories read on Vectis Radio.

We had a discussion about changes to the website, including a page for competitions, and the need for all members to do a blurb and a photo for the member’s page. We discussed the possibility or advisability of changing the software, or finding a way for others to be able to make changes.

We talked about all; the people queueing up to join our group, and whether we really are full up – e.g. people who are member, or seen as members, but who don’t turn up very often. Various ideas were discussed, ranging from the tazering option favoured by Jonathan, to more gentle and serene thoughts.  We agreed that we should encourage new members to join, whilst recognising that too many people would compromise the freedom and comfort of those wanting to talk about their work during the meetings. This will be a continuing discussion.

There is to be a new venue for our meetings. See above. Jenni has visited Orchard House, and met the manager, Rebecca Alexander. They seem very helpful and caring, and are offering a room, parking, and refreshments all free of charge. They also won’t have windows open to the view of the public, and comfy chairs, which will be a relief.

I’m sure this is a great solution.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Firstly, I want to apologise for the lateness of these Jottings. Since the last meeting I’ve been away twice and moved house. I lost my trusty pad somewhere, and I’ve been searching for it. Now it has come back to me, I can only hope that my memory is as god as I thought it used to be, although it’s quite true about moving house being even more traumatic than nervous breakdown, divorce, or mother of all wars. I’m slowly regaining my faculties, and I apologise for not incorporating everything or getting things wrong. Please let me know if I need to amend these jottings.

Normal service will be resumed next time.

Jenni announced the change of venue. She mentioned another potential member called Sarah Blackwell, and showed us her portfolio of drawings.

Diana is delighted with the response to her new Plotting book, especially on the web in the U.S.A. We decided that they like books like that much more over there than here. She’s having to reread her Pony books, because she has committed to write at least two more. Given some following wind, it might all get republished and redesigned, and who knows what else might happen? Excellent news.

Tony has been painting. He’s going to be off the map and out of contact for a month, because he’s accompanying Fiona on one of her 50 Challenges, wild camping somewhere in the Outer Hebrides. There was a lot of discussion of the weight of items, since they’re going to be carrying everything they’ll need. Blimey!

Fiona confirmed that they’re going to follow the Hebridean Way, a new pathway opened up over 180 miles, from Barra to Stornoway. It’ll take 3 weeks. Good luck.

Jonathan went on again about columns, although he’s started skipping them, which feels like the start of a slippery slope. He reads a lot of great books, and would like to be in that number, but doubts himself and his abilities too much, and there are always so many other things to do, and so little time.

We welcomed Andrew, not so much a new member as an old member returning to us. He won a short story competition in 2011, wrote a novel, did the usual publishing thing, and after it all went quiet, he started to write a YA novel, and has finished the first draft. He teaches writing, he works for a charity that helps people who are isolated, and he has a blog, called Andrewwrites.co.uk.

Sue’s third novel has reached the heady height of No. 713 in the charts. She has had lots of good reviews. She wrote a short story for the People’s Friend and sent it off. She worries about being a one-trick pony though, and was hopefully reassured by us all that she has multitudinous skills and talents, and her new work in progress is a departure from her usual style and genre.

Martin has reached Chapter 25 and 95,000 words. It’s going to be marvellous.

Anna gave us a list. Her 1st novel is with 2 agents. They asked for changes, she made them and resent. Waiting to hear. 2nd novel – She’s typing a third round of edits. She’s getting involved with WriteMentor, a 3-month process that gets a publisher showcase. 3rd novel is in 1st draft. She has applied to the Mike Howley Fund for money to put towards going on a writing retreat. She has secured this. Well done. Have fun there. She was looking forward to the Local Authors event at Lord Louis Library.

We also welcomed Yvie, who has been on the waiting list for a while. She has a novel that she’s been working on for several years. She has been attending West Wight Writers. Her novel references her Irish ancestry, and she has put extracts on social media. It’s the first book of a trilogy. She mentioned the Pin Drop Award Competition at the Royal Academy, and talked a lot about social media, especially Instagram, and how important it is nowadays to use it.

Aidan showed us his first copy of his book for his brother’s wedding. He’s going to have it printed by Crosspoint – 100 for £170, and that will also give him an ISBN number and a barcode, so it’ll be a proper official book. We hope to see the finished product.ewHe’

Freda talked about Apricot Harrison, the heroine of her latest and raciest novel. She’s looking for someone to produce some artwork for it, including a cover picture of the notorious naked walk up Ryde Pier for the arrival of some Royal, whist wearing only a Stars and Stripes flag, for a reason I haven’t yet fathomed. But I’m intrigued. She’s also looking for a scriptwriter who can turn it into a six-episode sitcom. That would be good. She says she just wants to be remembered. I’m quite sure she will be.

End notes

It was a good meeting again this month, with new members and lots of stimulating things to discuss and think about. Changes are afoot, and there’s a new energy loose. It feels good. We’re a great group.

Please remember not to turn up at Lord Louis Library next month, because we’re going to be at Orchard House. It will be on Friday 1st June 2018. See you then. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.


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Jonathan’s Jottings April 13th 2018


Jottings for Meeting April 13th.

Date for next meeting is Friday 4th May.

Saturday 5th May Local Author Day with various workshops at Newport Library 10-1

Apologies for errors, misspellings, omissions. The meeting opened with thanks to Anna for arranging the Newport Library as our new venue, so much quieter, and Maggie dispensed tea, coffee and cakes. Yum.

A decision was taken to continue Musings on an Ad Hoc basis whenever a member felt like sharing,

Emails received: Aesthetica – poetry and short story completion; entry £12.  Roz Dickenson –“Typo Terrier” proof reading services prior to publication.  Maggie to forward emails to JC for dissemination to members.

Carol & Bob Bridgestock at Quay Arts Thursday 19th April.

Maggie Curry would like to speak to Authors of children’s literature as IOW radio is looking to do a serialisation. Contact Maggie C directly or via Maggie J.

FREDA: Writing but having to rely on daughter to get typing done.  Having numerous requests for writing for special occasions; weddings, funerals, graduations etc., completed a poem for Harry and Megan and received acknowledgement/thanks from Buck House.

FRED: Finished his 3rd novel today; a pre and post WW1 family saga.  Asked “should I pay for editing or not?” majority suggested sending to agent (of the genre) if like book most agents will edit, a synopsis was very important (be sure of requirements as can vary) agents  will act as advocate.  Freda felt it best to get the book edited.

Members advised using Writers & Artists Year Book 2018 (currently in reference section of Library, older copies available for loan).  Writing magazines often have articles about publishers and will mention whether or not they will take unsolicited manuscripts.

DAVID:  Has been doing readings of his poetry at various clubs, had a number of successful publications.  Read out “Did she let sleeping dogs lie? Dream on!” a poem that been published in the Daily Mail.  Due to visit Lymington’s WI next week asked for members to come rescue him if he didn’t return!

TONY: Continuing work on the graphic novel with Dave which was quite complicated.  Involved in publishing a Franzine for the Urban Art market, and is procuring more and more work of the type he wants.  Supports Free Art (started in London with displays of art on the walls of Brick Lane and Shoreditch – still continues today) recently had exhibition in St Mary.  Successfully selling art from Sandown (Beach hut??).  Will be running a workshop in June, for 10 to 18 year olds, at Newport Library.

AIDAN:  writing a major piece of sci-fi/fantasy work (plotted up to 10 books in the series) still suffering writers block, producing short works posted on FB page.  Tony took the plots to read.  Currently busy producing short prose commission by his brother and his fiancée, prior to the wedding.  Trying to decide whether to use a publisher on the mainland or the Isle of Wight.

PIERS: Self publishing his 2nd novel in the Autumn – a biographical fiction based on log book of a trip to Isfahan in Persia. Wondered about copy editing. Melanie did proof reading, Lucy has started.  Maggie had information on another and would forward email to JC for dissemination and email Mel.

FRAN: Continuing her “Daily Dream” drawings and will publish in a book when completed.  Sold 8 paintings.  40,000 words into novel, looking to use an agent.  On judging panel of competition for 18 – 30 year olds to win a £25k grant from the Mike Howley(?) Trust.  Quay Arts involved; categories are Writing, Acting, Dancing, Technician.

MARY: her dark family drama “Behind the Smile”; set around Island’s longstone is getting reviews, currently on Amazon Kindle for £1.99.  Selling copies of printed book in local shops in Brighstone. Has book signing event on Saturday 14th April at St Olav’s in Gatcome.  The book cover was designed by Ryan @ Love Covers (from a picture that Mary forwarded).  Mary used “Creative Space” for her publishing; buys small numbers to sell on.  Printed in Poland £6 sells at £7.99 – the minimum price Amazon sell at.  All arranged by her husband who, we suggested, should come and give a presentation!!

JULIE: new member who has been on the waiting list for some considerable time.  Came to Island 2 years ago, retired 18 months ago.  Focused on academic writing; mainly travel, with a few successes in competitions.  Has a piece of work published in on-board magazine of National Express “Senior Moments in Sergovia”.  Voluntary work at Osbourne House gardens.

MARTIN:  belated birthday wishes proffered.  Now on to chapter 24 with 93,500 words under his belt. Reviewed by a few of the group who are eager for next chapters.

MICHELLE: Writing short stories.  Sent off “True Ghost Story” to publishers a few weeks ago.  Received email that it had been received, but nothing further.  Reassured by members that this was but a short time.

ANNA: Manuscript with 3 agents.  One asked for a redraft, and after contacting a second agent they have now asked for a redraft.  Spent the last 2 months making requested changes and resubmitted about 2 days ago. 3rd agent rejected manuscript but interested in any future work.  Book is for young adults.  Sent out to family and friends as Beta readers to spot errors prior to submission.

FIONA: Finger in lots of different pies; travel writing, copy editing, 50 challenges; 1st marathon due at Southampton in a weeks’ time, raised £438 through “Just Giving” website for charity, in County Press for New Year’s Day Swim.  Working on Fiction novel for children; “The Grumpy Zoo Keeper”.  Volunteer work at IOW Zoo provided a lot of interesting material with no political correctness!  Still waiting to hear whether or not commissioned book she wrote, based on journals provided, had been published.

JENNI: Finding it difficult to stay with one piece of work; writing short stories and chapters in 3 different books of different genre.  Considering creating a blog to publish reviews and own short stories to kick start media recognition.  Completed Melodic Choir flash mob raising money for Wessex Trust and raising awareness of plight of NHS.  Choir due to perform with Tenors UnLimited at medina in June.

NEW MEMBERS: Carol and John arrived hoping for membership:  John returned to island after 10 years in London working in theatre. Enjoys creative writing ; fantasy, Sci-fi, historical and nonfiction. Involved in Napoleonic re-enactments. Carol came back to the Island from USA via Kent, 13 years in personnel and finance for Chamber of Commerce. Working on historical research of IOW, written and had published short articles but would like to do definitive article on Island to show richness diversity, inventiveness, social aspect, evolution and the people.

An additionally request from an artist for membership.  Sarah Blackwell whose amazing drawings can be found at https://flickr.com/photos/138376280@N08/sets/72157690009409902

Unfortunately membership is currently around 30 so Carol, John and Sarah have been added to the waiting list.

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Jonathan’s Jottings 2nd February 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 2nd February 2018, Costa Ryde. Medium Latte, Old Paradise Street blend again. Nothing to eat, sadly, because of the rather tasty Macaroni Cheese I consumed beforehand.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 2nd March 2018, Lord Louis Library, Newport. See below.


Maggie, Sue, Jenni, Aidan, Jonathan, Mary, Piers, Lucy, Diana, David W, Martin, Erica, Freda and (the other) David.

Maggie’s Announcements

We congratulated Maggie for her Musings, even though they weren’t on the website at the time of the meeting.

Jonathan agreed to write the next Musings.

Maggie announced some changes to the website, and we’re all invited to think about how we would like it, and then to report back to Jenni with our ideas.

The important news this time is that we’re changing our venue. Anna has done a deal to get us the use of Lord Louis Library in Newport from now on. We’ll be able to meet in peace and quiet, without the noise of the steam whistle, in a location that’s fair to everyone. I believe we’ll be using the back door at Lord Louis, and we won’t have to rush to finish because people are trying to clear up and get home.

We’ve enjoyed using Costa very much, and they’ve obviously enjoyed having us, because they said they would be willing to start again if we need to come back. Aren’t people good!

If you haven’t yet done so, please send a short bio-blurb and a recent photo to Jenni so you can appear in the Members page.

There’s still room in the Fair Members’ Shorts page for your short stories or poems or, in fact, any other type of creative output. They have already provided much pleasure.

We had a talk about new members, and generally we decided that we should allow people to turn up or not, until or unless we really do get crowded out. Jonathan’s suggestion to taser anyone who didn’t turn up consistently, or Martin at any time, wasn’t taken up. Sadly. Maggie is quite right, we are inclusive and welcoming. That’s one of our main strengths.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

The meeting started a little late because of Sue’s sandwich. Her third book has gone out for review, and it will be published on 26th March, and the title will be revealed then. It has had good reviews so far, and she’s hoping for a load of sales. She will be embarking on the blog tours and other marketing ruses when all that kicks off. We wish her much luck, and many new readers.

She has written 10k of her new thriller, and is thinking about approaching another agent or publisher, partly because it’s a change of direction. She likes her present agent, but she’s looking for someone more vigorous, and more willing to try new approaches and media. Good luck with that too.

Jenni has been researching for a book she’s trying to get down on paper. She has sent out details of a drama writing competition, passed to her by Maggie. If you missed them, please email and she will send them again. Or you could google  www.theatre503.com. She will set up a ‘Competition Page’ on the website so we can post competitions there when we spot them.

She talked again about making a book of Christmas short stories, and other contributions, getting it printed locally, and selling it, to make some money, to get some recognition, and to spread the work. We would give any profits to a charity chosen by the group. We all thought it was a great idea. Watch this space.

Aidan has become fed up with not writing his novel, and has thought of another approach. He’s going to write a new novel, about an imaginary world with its own mythology, and he’s going to write fortnightly pieces about the background of the characters on his Facebook website, as well as working on the story itself. You can find him by going to Facebook and searching for ‘Aidan Finch’. His avatar is a drawing of a helmet, and his photo contains kittens.

At this point we discussed putting our various website URLs and Facebook and Twitter account details on the website, as well as any other useful contacts or places to visit. Jenni will be looking into it, and you can send yours to her in the meantime if you want them put in there.

Jonathan still hasn’t got over winning the competition. The weekly column on www.onethewight.com is still going strong, and he’s going to get restarted on his NaNoWriMo project soon. He had a bad back, visited an Osteopath, and has had some thoughts about audio. Watch this space.

He also talked about having another short story evening at Ryde Library, and the joy of reading your work out loud, or of getting someone else to read it and listening to your own work. Here’s another space to watch.

Mary had a sad moment when she had a rejection from HQ Digital. They liked her book, and wrote some very encouraging things about it, but they decided not to option it. Fools!

She spoke of her concerns about losing reviews on Amazon. They’ve just disappeared, and she doesn’t know why.  But she’s soldiering on and enjoying her writing anyway, despite not being properly appreciated by the wider world. We appreciate you Mary. Keep it up!

Piers has self-published his sailing book and talked about the joy of being recognised as a writer. He has had very good feedback, and learned a lot. He entertained us with stories of Scrivener, the software he uses for his manuscripts. And the things he got right and wrong while setting it out for publication in various media. He talked of his loathing for predictive text, and doesn’t want to find out how to turn it off. But he will.

He talked about his new book – Rites of Passage – about two young people setting off to travel the world. It’s nearly finished. Then the conversation veered off towards Charles the First, and I briefly lost the plot, or maybe I just fell asleep and dreamed it. Sorry about that. Please fill me in if it was important, and I’ll add it in next time.

Lucy has been beta-reading for other writers, using the Tracking facility in Word. You can edit with it, and it shows your changes as well as what you’re changed it from. It’s very clever, or annoying, depending on whether it works for you. Lucy is an expert. You can find it in the ‘Review’ section of Word. Just switch it on, and it’ll record your changes. When you’ve done, return the doc, and the writer can accept or reject each change.

She has been considering a course in Copy Editing. We were all encouraging, and discussed the difference between Copy Editing and Proof-reading. Apparently Copy Editing is looking at the actual language, and Proof-reading is more about the look of the book when it’s published. Please tell me if I got that wrong, and I’ll correct it next time.

Mainly we wanted her to carry on writing for herself, and she talked about her next book. Good luck with that.

Diana has finished the first draft of her Plotting Book, and is very pleased with the result. It’s being proof-read at the moment. She also has a new revised website – www.dianakimpton.co.uk. It’s full of details about her and her work, as well as advice and free giveaways! Check it out. It’s good.

She has got tough with her publisher over her Japanese publishers, and they’ve been stirred into action. She’s very big in Japan, and she’s agreed to write several more stories. We were asked to suggest other animals for the next books. They’re going to think about relaunching her previous books here too. Great news.

She also talked about her next book for writers, which will be about Scenes and Sentences.

David has thought about writing a thriller about a writer’s group, where the numbers are declining owing to one member being a serial killer. It’ll end in a thrilling finale with the only two members left alive, one of whom is the killer! That would be good. I’m only surprised it hasn’t been done before. He has written and read poems, done some gigs. He reads us his latest poem about Trump. Excellent.

Martin is having trouble deciding whether he’s writing Chapters 21 and 22, or just Chapter 21. He thinks it’s too long, but doesn’t know where or how to split it. We suggested writing it all, and then deciding. He’s had a bit of January Blues, so he bought a bike. I can relate to that.

Erica will surely welcome the move to Lord Louis, because she suffered from a cold draft and had to leave early. Her agent loved her book, but isn’t going to publish it. They said it was really good, but not exciting enough. Sigh!

Freda isn’t going to write a novel again. She’s nearly completed her preparation for her book of poems, and loves them all. She’s looking for an illustrator. She told us of a character who may or may not be someone she knows, called ‘Diamond Lil’, who is apparently giving up the life of selling her body, even though she obviously has a great talent for it. I rather hope she changes her mind about writing novels, and writes this one.

David talked about his collaboration with Tony. He writes the text for graphic novels, and then waits for Tony to produce the artwork. We have seen some on social media, and it’s marvellous. There’s a story about a Bug Collector, and there’s an idea for a book that’s composed entirely of pretend covers of comics. It sounds intriguing.

End notes

We had another fantastic meeting, full of energy and triumph and courage in adversity, and, as always, the hard work and striving and hope for that elusive publishing deal. Keep up the good work!

Please remember not to turn up at Costa next month, because we’re going to be at Lord Louis Library in Newport. It will be on Friday 2nd March 2018. See you then. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.


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Jonathan’s Jottings 5th January 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 5th January 2018, Costa Ryde. Large Latte, Old Paradise Street blend again. I ate before the meeting, so Sorry Costa, no snacks. Shucks.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 2nd February 2018, Costa Ryde.


Maggie, Anna, Jonathan, Fred, David, Tony, Aidan, Fiona and Martin.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie thanked Fiona for her excellent Musings. Maggie agreed to write the next Musings.

There were a couple of questions about the web site, now Maggie and Jenni are sharing the pain of running tis rabble. They’re going to get together and make some management decisions. Watch this space.

If you haven’t yet done so, please send a short bio-blurb and a recent photo to Jenni so you can appear in the Members page.

There’s still room in the Fair Members’ Shorts page for your short stories or poems or, in fact, any other type of creative output. They have already provided much pleasure.

No New members section, because we’re still full-up.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Anna’s book is still being scrutinised by the same three agents. She’s going to start sending it out again, and remind them that they’re not alone, and they should snap it up before they miss out. She’s going to keep going for a year or 100 submissions, and then take stock.

There’s going to be another Local Author’s event at Newport Library in April. Watch this space.

Jonathan was all puffed up and still full of his triumph at the Isle of Wight Blind Society Annual Christmas Short Story Competition, and went on embarrassingly about it. A few days after the event, there was an opportunity to read the story aloud at Ryde Library to a real audience, and it was wonderful. Everyone should get the chance to read their stories out. It’s thrilling. The Christmas stories are now on our website.

There was a moment of panic when someone tore a strip out of his notebook.

Fred has nearly finished his Bournemouth-set family saga. He’s deciding the fates of his characters. He’s still struggling with the usual emotional roller coaster. One day everything he’s written feels awful and rubbish, and then it seems rather good, and so on. We’ve all been there, and there doesn’t seem to be an alternative. We learn to live with self-loathing, being misunderstood, and ignored by publishers. We are too good for this world.

On the other hand, one of his stories was published in an anthology in Ireland.

There was a discussion about remembering and forgetting, and about writers who carry notebooks. We decided that everything is remembered, but the great difficulty is how we retrieve these memories. Jonathan suggest his Soup Theory of memory and writing. Apparently everything seen and heard and experienced, and all thoughts and ideas and dreams get poured into a deep tureen of stuff somewhere in the brain, and it gets stirred occasionally. Writing a story is a matter of dipping your spoon in and out pop the appropriate ingredients.

David performed songs and poetry at Carisbrooke Castle, including his School Reunion poem. He read his Library poem to an audience which included a librarian called Joyce, who luckily saw the funny side of it. He sat on King Charles’s bed, and caused the alarm to go off. He submitted his poem about tights, which was rejected, but it apparently caused an entire office full of women to cry. He’s definitely doing something right.

Aidan has started his website, and published one new story on it. He’s working on the idea of setting himself targets. Her really wants to get on with his novel. And he will.

Fiona is getting on with her Year of 50 Challenges. She has already made some bread, and doesn’t like dough very much. She has written a press release for Tony. She has been having trouble finding a story idea for her Literature Challenge, but has been inspired by several pieces on this subject in Writing Magazine, and thinks they have worked. Something about a grumpy zoo-keeper, maybe. Good luck with that.

She also wants to learn to say Thank you in 50 languages, and ride a unicycle. She wants to sleep in a lot of bothies. Apparently there’s a Bothy Association, and she’d going to get in touch with them. Watch this space.

Martin had a Good Christmas, with lots of writing. He has written/rewritten three more chapters, and is on Chapter 21 now. His tame readers are reporting back to him, and he’s pleased with the feedback so far. Keep up the good work.

End notes

Because it was so close to Christmas and the New Year it was a small meeting, but that didn’t affect the quality of our discussions or the interesting items and topics that we all brought to the table. Maggie is still at the helm, which is very good, and she and Jenni will forge a good partnership to steer us through another great year, with lots of books being finished and submitted, and with lots of good angst along the way.

The next meeting will be on Friday 2nd February 2018. See you then. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.


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Jonathan’s Jottings 1st December 2017


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 1st December 2017, Costa Ryde. Large Latte, Old Paradise Street blend again, one of those mince pies with a star cut into it. Festive.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 5th January 2018, Costa Ryde.


Maggie, Fiona, Sue, David, Jenni, Fred, Aidan, Roy, Anna, Erica, Jonathan, Martin and Tony.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie thanked David for his excellent Musings. Fiona agreed to write the next Musings.

It was only three weeks since the last meeting, so nothing much seemed to have happened, except that many of us have been phoned by the Society for the Blind, and warned to be present at Newport Minster on Monday 18th for the prize-giving, because a lot of our stories have been awarded prizes. We don’t know whether they’re major prizes or just honourable mentions, but we’re quite excited about it, and we’ll make a good showing.

Good luck to everyone who has been phoned, which includes me for some extraordinary reason, despite my assumption that having people get injured or dying or having car crashes should be a component of any good Christmas story.

If you haven’t yet done so, please send a short bio-blurb and a recent photo to Jenni so you can appear in the Members page.

There’s still room in the Fair Members’ Shorts page for your short stories or poems or, in fact, any other type of creative output. They have already provided much pleasure.

No New members section, because we’re still full-up.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Fiona has set herself 50 challenges for next year, including running a marathon, writing a short story and submitting it to a competition, and reading and reviewing 18 books. Good luck with all the challenges.

Sue has finished editing her 3rd book and sent it to her publisher. It’s currently being raked over by 2 proof-readers. It may be published on NetGalley. The title is a well-kept secret and won’t be revealed until the publishing launch. She’s continuing with her dark psychological thriller, and is enjoying writing it, not knowing what’s going to happen. She’s secretly worried it’ll turn itself into a romcom, with a murder in it. But you never know.

David is waiting to start work as Santa in Busy Bees. He has been reading his poems out in public, including one venue where he frightened the audience, who were convinced that he had actually deep-fried his goldfish, and needed calming down. Who says poetry has lost the power to move people? He read us his latest poem, about a fancy-dress party, with the usual delicious sting in the tail. And he wrote an excellent Musings.

Jenni is trying to read Martin’s chapters. She’s enjoying them very much. She has temporarily given up on her current book, because she can’t get the first chapter right. We suggested she should skip to Chapter 2 and return to Chapter 1 later, but she has become more interested in another book. Good luck with that.

Fred won £10 for an honourable mention in a short story competition. He’s happy with that, but he really wants to win, preferably in Writer’s News. We’re all sure he will one day. He has reached 106k words in his Bournemouth family saga, and expects it to be about 120k when it’s done. Nearly there!

Aidan had a wonderful time in the Philippines. He posted his December short on his website before he left. He’s now going to try to become more proactive with the social media, but he feels stuck in the Writers’ Block. That’s somewhere we’ve all been. We suggested writing more short things, and setting deadlines, as in one item per week on Facebook, shorter but regular as clockwork. He’ll see how it goes. Good luck. You usually need to carry a torch, a compass, and lots of sandwiches in the Writers’ Block, in case you get stuck in it.

Roy brought in his books about the Temple Twins, in the mock format he has submitted to various publishers. They travel the world back in the 60s, and it’s illustrated with Roy’s own photos. He has had them read in local schools, and has been given valuable feedback from that experience. He hasn’t been able to buy his guidebooks, but they have been sold on, so they will continue to be published and available, although sadly by someone else.

Anna reported that her first book is now with 3 agents. She’s still waiting for any of them to respond, and is considering letting them all know of the existence of their rivals, which might make them buck up a bit. It’s positive, but very frustrating. She’s still editing her 2nd book, and is at that stage where she hates it. It’s darker than the first one. There are several more to go, so it’s going to be a long-term project. Good luck.

Erica is 80k into her 2nd book. She will finish it soon, and start the process of pushing it out to agents. Her first book is still with 2 agents, who are also taking their time. Good luck.

Jonathan hasn’t done anything much since the last meeting. His NaNoWriMo novel turned into a NaNoWri3Days, after losing his job. But he has been heartened by writing several short stories recently, and the good reception they have had (Thanks for your kind words), and a phone call from the Blind people. The novel is alive, and he knows what’s going to happen next, although not what’s going to happen after that. He needs to get a job or grow some self-discipline, so he can shape his days and achieve things.

Martin has been writing. He has sent out several chapters to various people, and is pleased that they like it. He’s pleased with his progress, especially his fantasy characters, which he hasn’t really done before, and he’s very pleased with the ‘Shift’ that occurs within the book. He’s currently on Chapter 19 of 29, so he’s going well.

Tony has been remembering Pink Rubber Ball Magazine from many years ago, which suggested he should paint at least one picture every day, and he has been doing just that ever since. He described his incredible work-rate and dedication, and there was a good discussion about how an artist’s lifestyle and output can be compared.

There are many great differences, but underneath there’s the desire to create and the determination to get on with it and be successful. We all pondered the idea of becoming fitter through practice, so the energy or creativity flows easier and faster through the mind and the muscles working together like a well-oiled team.

Maggie has finished her house at last, or so she says. She’s looking forward to writing new stuff in 2018. We wish her success, and we’re looking forward to reading it. Good luck.

End notes

We had another fascinating and lively meeting this month, with stimulating discussions and a lot of news. Many of us will be irresistibly drawn towards Newport Minster on Monday 18th, hoping for Prizes and Glory. Or should it be Glory and Prizes? I don’t care both, I’ll take them whichever way they come. I’ll be there, in a state of amazement and excitement, whatever the result.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and we’ll assemble again like small change at the bottom of an old handbag on Friday 5th January 2018. It’ll be a New Year, and good things are going to happen!

See you then. I can’t wait.

P.S. Thank you to Anna, who pointed out that I confused Mary and Fran in my last Jottings. I apologise to them both. Either Anna is the only one who reads them, or everyone is very kind, and didn’t want to mention it. I shall hope to do better in future.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.

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Jonathan’s Jottings 10th November 2017


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 10th November 2017, Costa Ryde. Large Latte, Old Paradise Street blend again, nice cake.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 1st December 2017, Costa Ryde.


Maggie, Jenni, David, Martin, Fiona, Anna, Diana, Jonathan, Dave H, Freda, Tony, Aidan and Fran.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie made her new updated announcement. She’s going to stay in as undisputed leader, and Jenni is going to be her deputy, sharing the duties and boring bits so Maggie can get on with writing. She was pleased to announce that she has written and submitted a Christmas story for the competition. Everyone was very pleased.

Fred was thanked for his remarkably good musings for November, even though he didn’t show up this month. David has volunteered to write them for December, and Fiona has volunteered for January.

If you haven’t yet done so, please send a short bio-blurb and a recent photo to Jenni so you can appear in the Members page.

There’s still room in the Fair Members’ Shorts page for your short stories or poems or, in fact, any other type of creative output. They have already provided much pleasure.

No New members section, because we’re still full-up.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

David is waiting for a call to be Santa. He has sold several CDs and handed money to the Hospice Shop. Well done. He wrote a poem about a turkey, and sang us a song by Richard Stilgoe about ‘Joyce, the Librarian’

Martin has sent out some of his latest book for us to read and critique. He’s pleased that this time he has created a new world for the first time. He has written 18 chapters and 80,000 words. Maggie Currie has read it so far and has reviewed it positively.

Fiona has been exploring the sights and landmarks of Portsmouth free, as part of an invitation to write about them in various journal and websites. She particularly enjoyed the climbing wall at the Old Dockyard. She has read and reviewed 15 books this year.

Anna went to the Isle of Wight Literary Festival, and watched Krissy and Z in action there. She is editing Book 2, and writing Book 7. Apparently, she has Books 3 to 6 waiting in the wings, but we didn’t know that. There was general astonishment. Blimey! She has three agents looking at her first novel. None have come back to her yet.

Diana has a new printed version of ‘A Special Child in the Family’, if anyone wants to buy one. She has a new grandchild. Her book about plotting, based on plotting an actual book, now has a new order so it feels like it’s in the right shape. She has written 27,000 to 30,000 words so far.

Piers brought in his book, ‘Rivers’, and regretted not bringing more with him, because it was immediately snapped up by Freda. He talked about using Scrivener and Amazon and Kindle, and thinking he had ordered large format by mistake. He talked about his 50-year-old travelogue, and the sameness of many days, and how to avoid describing the breakfast every day.

Jonathan talked about writing a short story and three Christmas short stories and joining NaNoWriMo, and writing 4500 words, then discovering that his role at work had been made redundant, so he was feeling a bit shell-shocked. But very glad to be writing again nonetheless. The short story is in the Shorts section of the website if anyone wants to read it.

Dave hasn’t been for a year, and it was good to catch up on his news. He’s been writing a comic script with Tony about a Tower Block. He has had 2 scripts recently published on Future Quake Press, and another called Something Wicked. He’s writing a NaNoWriMo screenplay, and he talked about writing a comic made up entirely of comic book covers.

Freda has been having printer problems. She has had some requests for poems, and says she needs a secretary, because she has so many pieces of paper that need typing up. She talked about having a photo of her and her son in the County Press.

Tony talked about Comic Con. It was over-subscribed, and the venue wasn’t large enough, and the BBC and ITV turned up to cover it, but nobody from the County Press. He said he had a wonderful time, and sold lots of artwork, and it was a really successful first convention, that was bound to be repeated, although they could do with a larger building. We didn’t know of one on the island though.

Aiden was excited to be going to the Philippines for an extended diving holiday.

Fran has been bubbling along. She had a letter from Harper Impulse after submitting years ago. The letter had a lot of things to say about her work, which had been looked at properly. She was turned down, but there were lots of comments. No news from HQ Digital as yet. She’s working on the new novel, and walking the dog a lot.

Jenni has written two short stories for the Christmas competition. Good luck to her and everyone else who has entered.

End notes

Maggie’s announcement made a happy start to a lively meeting this month. Lot of us are writing and submitting, and we’re all full of ideas and enthusiasm and energy.

Good luck with the Christmas short stories. Sorry, Martin, it’s too late.

See you in December. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings 10th November 2017
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