The Wight Fair Writers & Artists Circle

A Place for Isle of Wight Authors, Writers and Artists
Browsing Jonathan’s Jottings

Jonathan’s Jottings July 2019


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 5th July 2019, The Beefeater meeting place again. Doombar, Doombar, it’s worth a song.

Doombar, Doombar, you’re so fine

Doombar, Doombar, tastes like wine…  (to the tune of Freight Train).

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 6th September 2019, Beefeater again. No meeting in August, it’ll be full of tourists and the music will be on, and most of us will be away on holiday…


Jenni, Mary, Martin, David, Aidan, Sue, Freda, Diane, Piers, Irene and Jonathan.

Jenni’s Announcements

Jenni welcomed us all. Maggie has decided to step right back, at least for the time being. Her life has changed, and she’s very busy with other things, And although she’ll keep an eye open to see what we’re doing, she won’t be participating for the foreseeable future. We wish her well, and thank her for her ceaseless hard work and leadership for so long. We’ll miss you.

Jenni mentioned the 50-word Travel article invitation from the Daily Telegraph called Just Back. Might be worth a try.

She also mentioned a website called Theatre 503 Studio, which is welcoming submissions.

Jonathan mentioned Ryde Library asking for 500 Words (or thereabouts), either a story or a poem, or indeed anything else that would fit onto a piece of A4 paper, to put on the wall of the gallery during august. It’s not a competition, just a wall of writing for people to read and enjoy. If you would like to write something for this or dig up something in your stash, please either hand it in at Ryde Library or email Jonathan at address below.

We also learned two new words:

Logophile – a lover of words

Snollygoster, which is self-explanatory.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Jenni has been working on Chapter 1 of her novel, and will make it available soon.

Mary has completed her latest book. Her first draft (the first of many) has been read by her husband, who has given her lots of useful hints from a reader’s point of view. We look forward to reading it in due course. There was a short discussion of the usefulness, or otherwise, of having partners who are willing to take on this task.

She mentioned an interview she heard by David Nichols, author of One Day and Starter for Ten, talking about his latest book, and his terror of writing his second book (and every one subsequently). He seems to be a genuine and honest person, and proves that writers can be successful but remain the same person with the same worries and fears. So there’s hope for us all.

Martin has now had 8 rejections. He’s committed to putting £2.50 in the Rejection Jar for each one, so he won’t be going on that holiday of a lifetime yet… We all encouraged him to keep at it.

David told us of his band’s triumphant gig at Ryde Library, which I went to and enjoyed very much. Money was raised for Mountbatten Hospice too. He had a poem published in the Daily Mail, about literally raining cats and dogs, and he read us his latest poem about the delights of trying to speak like a contemporary teenager. Like so cool!

Aidan is continuing to write his novel, chapter by chapter, and he’s still adding pieces to his Facebook page. But weather and work and new nieces do keep slowing him down.

Sue has had a positive response from Mary who has beta-read her latest book. Her husband has been reading it too. She has now stated on her 5th book. There’s been a problem with a mis-spelling of Scrotes. We tried to imagine what a Scrotie might be. It was suggested that her book would look good in the Richard and Judy chart. Lots of people thought they had finished with this, but they just removed themselves to an obscure TV channel instead. We had a brief discussion on book genres, which Sue likes. Apparently this latest novel is a ‘dark domestic literary thriller’. I’m already eager to read it.

Freda has had a visit from the lady who would like to turn her novel about April Harrison into a sitcom. She thinks it would need a lot of rewriting, and will be reporting back again soon. Good luck with that. Freda’s family has been visiting from Australia, and otherwise she has been doing a lot of people-watching.

Jonathan has been editing the Explosion novella, and struggling to write his column, because nowadays everything turns into a Brexit rant and is consequently unpublishable and unreadable.

Diana is writing a play. She’s also going to write a book about how to learn Algebra for people who hate maths but need to pass an exam in it. She brought the two latest Amy Wild books, published by Usborne. They’re very smart. If they sell well, the whole series will be revisited and reissued as a set. She has had a letter from her Japanese publisher, and hopes for great things there. Well done!

Piers has been investigating Wattpad, and isn’t too impressed yet. He has been reading about H G Wells, who was a bit of a revolutionary as well as a visionary, and well ahead of his time. He has been reading Stealing Roses by Heather Cooper. He’s practically giving away copies of 1969, his first memoir-inspired book. He’s planning the second volume, to be called Brighton Days. His son Titus has published a book about Roger Deakin and wild swimming.

Irene lost a lot of her new work, but has managed to retrieve it from her PC. Phew! This caused a discussion about housekeeping and how to save work so it never gets lost. Suggestions included the Cloud, portable memory devices and sticks, and emailing work to yourself. It’s very important to do sop regularly. Obviously. Make sure you do. She has been very busy at the Law Centre, and is finding it difficult to disengage. She will have more of her new book rewritten in September. She explained the complexity in international law of a Dominican divorce.

End notes

This month we had a great meeting, with lots of discussion about several interesting topics, and our corner was quiet and comfortable, without much external noise to interrupt the conversational flow.

I’ve made another compromise, and written this in two styles. First, here, the standard thing, and, separately, the Gothic Steampunk version. I leave it up to you whether to encourage me or not in this literary genre odyssey.

The next meeting will be on 7:00pm Friday 6th September 2019, at the Beefeater again. I can’t wait. Have a great summer, keep writing, and see you all in September.

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

Jonathan's Jottings July 2019

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings July 2019

Jonathan’s Jottings June 2019


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 7th June 2019, The Beefeater meeting place again. Doombar, Doombar, it’ll be the death of me.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 5th July 2019, Beefeater again.


Jenni, Kevin, Bev, Diana, Tony, Fiona, Aidan, Erica, Freda, Jonathan.

Jenni’s Announcements

Jenni welcomed us all. We agreed that the Beefeater is working well, although we should be looking for an even better fit. Basically, a large enough room, private, easy to access, somewhere in the middle of the Island, tea and coffee facilities, quiet, and FREE! Shouldn’t be that hard to find, surely… we’re all going to keep looking.

Jenni is contacting everyone on her list of members and past members, to find out who still wants to be active members and who still wants to keep hearing from us, and who’s actually dropped out.

We’re going to meet in July, but we ‘ll probably miss out August, partly because of school and other holidays, and mostly because the Beefeater will be packed out. Watch the social media announcements for dates.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Jenni will have Chapter 1 of her novel available soon. She asked about the difference between Active and Passive voice, and we all chipped in with our views and opinions. Basically, the consensus, if I dare use such a word, was that a passive voice is far less involved, because it’s usually a neutral point of view that explains or lists what is happening, rather than getting into the heads of any of the participants and describing it through their feelings and reactions. It’s useful for setting context, but doesn’t encourage the involvement of the reader. For instance, it’s possible to write this – ‘The boy was taken through to the Master’s study, where he was beaten.’ Writing this in the active voice, either first-person or third-person, allows us to see and feel the event from the point of view of any or all participants. We can describe the terror or triumph, attribute feelings to those involved, and generally make it far more colourful to the reader. But of course, there are no rules, so we have to write it and edit it to our own satisfaction and for the effect we want to make on the reader. This was a very interesting discussion.

Kevin brought us a prototype of one of his illustrated stories. He told us he’s been trying to get interest from publishers and agents, and he has submitted to Unbound, a crowdfunding site. We were interested to hear how this might progress, and hope to hear more. He brought other stories, and has asked anyone who would like to read them to contact him. Jenni will send out his contact details.

At this point, the idea was raised about having a member’s only page on the website, so that active members only can use a password to go to a page that contains contact details and other content that we don’t want to be available to the public. Jenni said she would mention it to our webmaster, but it’s always difficult when someone is offering their services freely, and has a busy life. Erica raised a point about putting stories on the website, because some publishers consider that to be actual publishing, and this could cause difficulties on occasion.

Bev has not been writing, but she has an idea she’s developing, about a group of seven friends who are all privy to a secret. She’s looking at competitions, too.

Diana has been to Portugal, and had a such a wonderful time on a horse ranch that it has killed her writing. She wants to go back there and stay. For ever. She’s also getting interested in writing a play about a charity shop. We all thought that would be a great idea.

Tony has been very busy. He has picked up a commission for 10 murals and two commissions this month. He has finished the Nightingale Hotel. He is going to paint the arches in front of the Zoo, and some work at Bar 21 in Newport. We had a lively discussion about music, and it turns out that he loves Drum and Bass.

Fiona is continuing with her Zoo Life stories. She’s complaining about her hands. Working with animals s bad for the hands, apparently. Lots of cuts and injuries, and scratches and bites from the animals. Not all deliberate, but nonetheless a constant stream of cuts and bruises. Nothing more serious. Let’s hope that continues. She loves the work.

Aidan has finished Chapter 2 of his novel. He regularly publishes his work on social media and is receiving good feedback from that.

Erica is in a muddle. She’s spending six hours per day writing her novel, and it’s slow. After a good start, with lots of interest from agencies, it has all dried up, and she’s not sure whether she should rework or carry on with the new novel. She is also thinking about workshopping and collaboration. There was a good discussion about plays and playwriting, traditional and collaborative. It was very interesting to see the difference between plays hat are written and where the text is fixed, and an approach where the writer brings the idea to the cast and the director, and the version that is written and performed is the result of that collaboration.

Jonathan has had a slow time with his writing, with less Column output and not much else. He has committed to edit his novella about time and explosions, and will make it available to anyone who wans to read it. There’s the difficult ending to write too…

Freda has been looking at a schoolgirl annual from years ago, and is going through all her writing, on scraps of paper that need to be organised and collected.

End notes

This month there wasn’t a large turnout, but we had a good quality of discussion about a wide range of topics. Everyone was happy with the meeting, and went away with their heads buzzing with new ideas and thoughts. That, of course, is how it should always be, and usually is, in our group. Long may that last.

I have an apology to make. My month has been complicated, and I’m very late with these jottings. I suggested in the meeting that I wanted to experiment with writing the jottings in different styles each time. I was going to write these in a Gothic Punk style, and I was looking forward to the challenge. But I’m so late that I’ve just written them straight. I’ll do it next time, I promise…

The next meeting will be on 7:00pm Friday 5th July 2019, at the Beefeater again. 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 June 2019

Jonathan’s Jottings May 2019


Friday May 3rd 2019 – Jottings

In the absence of Jonathan; group wordsmith and scribe, the following belated notes have been shackled together. Maggie is stepping down as Chairman of the group with Jenni stepping in to fill the gap as best she can, although thankfully Maggie will still be along to meetings – where she can- to be on hand to guide.  Warm wishes were given to Maggie for supporting the group so ably over the years.  Andrew Preskey also sent his regards to the group as he is stepping away from writing, and the group, for the foreseeable future.  There was sadness that personal circumstances meant that Andrew was no longer writing but he left a legacy to the group with a number of books related to writing and publishing together with a Waterstones gift voucher which he asked the group to use as they saw fit.  The suggestion that a library of books be set up and the “Annual Writer’s Guide To …” be purchased with the voucher with all books made available for loan to members was met with general approval.

Maggie started off by sharing Carol and Bob’s post for a competition, although entries were now closed it looked as if the competition might be an annual one.  JC will review and post on website if appropriate.

 Erica continued – reporting that she was now on her 7th edit; the general feeling was that this is well within normal parameters.  Erica then introduced us to “The Well of Random” five wonderfully oblique documentaries on BBC 4, introduced by Seren Jones, that were well worth a listen to.  In her busy life she has also completed an online course on short story writing which, if recall serves me correctly, featured author Patrick Ryan.  One of the notable things that Erica took from the course was how a collection of short stories needed to anchor stories significantly placed providing a theme, and that it was fashionable to do a Novella with the short stories.

Mary, after a complete break from writing, is now back full steam.  She is examining dialogue in more detail.  Looking from the point of view of an observer watching a play or film, observing closely what people do in the scene during the dialogue, has provided a different way of considering what and how dialogue can be written.

Fran brought along her latest book, her fourth, for us to browse through – Unconscious Adventures: A Year of Daily Dream Drawings – with many congratulations from the group.  Fran told of her approach to Waterstones for a book launch there, she is still waiting to hear back although if she does sell through Waterstones they take a steep 50% of all sales.  Other suggestions, from the group, were: Babooshka Books in Shanklin Gallery, Regent Street, and a Newport bookshop near the The Appollo Theatre.  A previous book launch in Cowes library with one donated to the library had been successful but the focus needed to be on promoting sales.  Fran has also been doing a lot more copywriting.

Piers is still in pursuit of writing a good love scene focusing on the emotion rather than the graphic detail.  Recently reading Radclyffe Hall’s “Well of Loneliness” – written in the 1920’s and banned in the USA – and “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” by Jeanette Winterson, Piers had been inspired by the passionate quality of the writing with very little graphic detail.  His book is now 50,000 words in and is reviewing in the light of his new inspiration.

Tony reported that the Nightingale hotel, which is now open to the public, is doing well despite the continued resentment and inappropriate behaviour of the other local hoteliers.  He has restored and painted the Tiger from atop the Isle of Wight Zoo which will be travelling the country.  He is also painting the Gothic Circus bar, and has more work to complete at the zoo.  Tony is a very busy man indeed with his work adorning more and more canvases across the Island.

Sue had, to date, sent submissions to 6 agents, with regard to her latest and 4th novel.  Her agent for her first three novels had proved very helpful in creating an elevated pitch – mentioning previous book sales, number of pages read on Kindle, and her connections with the blogging community – as she ventures into a new genre. Whilst Sue had approached agents who had similar books in their armoury members of the group suggested that might already have reached their quota so sho9ld be wary of being too focused .  Mary suggested using “Agent Hunter”.  Lucy advised that she had submitted to over 50.

 Aidan is making good progress with Chapter One and may soon be looking for Beta Readers.  He is still prolific in writing short stories for his Facebook page although FB was being problematic in allowing him to share with groups.  This has prompted him to consider starting a Blog.

Fiona has been recording plenty of interesting stories in her journal of animal antics; especially the monkeys.  She regailed us with tales relating to the New World monkey detailing thug like behaviour.  The novel that she “Ghost” wrote has now been published “Are We Nearly There Yet – Croyden to Cairns” by Graham Naismith.  It seemed a little mean that Fiona’s only acknowledgement was as a proof reader.

Freda has four of her books in Newport library.  She has been writing a lot but does not have the wherewithal to type it all up.  A happenstance meeting with a playwright at another group has led to a planned meeting where her novel will be thoroughly gone through with a view to it being turned into a play. Freda also has childrens stories and poems that she would like to get typed up and sent off.

Martin is in the process of sending his latest novel to agents; he will be trying agents/publishers in groups twelve weeks at a time.  In the meantime he has started a follow on novel and a new book that he has been thinking about for three years.

Jenni is 12,500 into her first book with about 15,00 words of 12 short stories in various stages of development.

have  She also told us about the BBC “Sounds of the Well of Random”

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings May 2019

Jonathan’s Jottings March 2019


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 1st March 2019, That Beefeater place near Premier Inn at Seaclose Park. A cool pint of Doombar. Very satisfactory. Surprisingly quiet, considering it was a Friday night at the local Beefery.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 5th April 2019, Beefeater again. Sadly, I won’t be there, because I need to be presiding over a Quiz again.


Maggie, Jenni, Piers, Aidan, Diana, Freda, Jonathan, Sue, Michelle, Kevin, Irene and David.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie has announced that she’s standing down as Chairman and President and Supremo of our group, because she needs to spend time and energy on herself for a while. She has worked tirelessly for years, leading and steering us forward, and we have continued and thrived under her leadership. She will be missed, but she has assured us that she will continue to come to at least some meetings, so she has not completely left.

We thank Maggie for all her hard work and enthusiasm, we wish her well in her life, and we hope she will be able to bounce back soon. We also hope to see her being able to concentrate on writing again, if that’s what she wants.

Jenni will take over Maggie’s role, and we wish her luck too, in trying to herd us, like cats, towards a successful and happy writing future…

This month we welcomed Kevin, who joined us for the first time. He has started to write Dr Seuss-like rhyming stories for his children, and he is also learning how to illustrate them on his computer. He brought some examples, apologising for the printer not working properly (we’ve all had that problem!), and we were impressed.

We had a discussion about the Beefeater, and we understand that it was a quiet evening, not in school holidays, and not in the summer, so the staff were happy to turn down the music in our corner and leave us alone. We don’t know whether it’ll always be like this, but we’re going to give it a go, maybe not meeting in August during the holiday season, and maybe moving the date if it corresponds to school holidays or half-terms.

We also agreed in the meantime to keep looking for alternative venues.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Jenni has been ill for ages, and was still coughing during the meeting. Please get well soon. She has started her novel, and has written several stories. Her problem is that she can’t stop herself editing in her head while she is writing, and that gets in the way. We discussed lots of ideas for stopping that, changing that, and not interrupting the creative flow. She’s going to see whether any of them might end up helping her. Good luck.

Michelle hasn’t been able to come recently, and it was good to see her again. She has been ill too. She hasn’t made much progress on her Fantasy/SF legendary story set on the Isle of Wight, and using the local folklore. It sounds like a great idea. We hope she makes more progress, and gets better soon.

Kevin brought some examples of his own computer-generated artwork for his rhyming children’s story, which is a tribute to the Dr Seuss books he loved in his own childhood. He has an original style, which is obvious.  He talked about his first forays into the world of agents and publishers, which we are all familiar with, and his contact with the owner of the Christmas Imaginarium in Ryde. He’s hoping in due course to ask our help in reading and critiquing his work. We hope he continues to come.

Irene has also been ill. There’s a lot of it about, it seems. She has been feeling better and has become more mobile now she’s recovering from her injury.  She’s still working on her legal cases, but she’s also concentrating on her writing, although not making huge progress.

David bought Maggie’s book when he saw it in a charity shop. We weren’t sure whether this was a triumph or not, but David enjoyed reading it, and no writer will turn down a good review. He hasn’t written many poems, apart from his weekly commitment. He has been with his band at many gigs, and gets some of his poems read out and sells some CDs on the way. He wants to write children’s stories for his grandchildren. He read us his latest work, a bittersweet rumination on the perils of School Reunions.

Sue is very close to the end of her latest book, and thoroughly enjoying writing it. She feels that she’s in charge, which is great, and is wondering whether she should be tying every loose end thoroughly and leaving no stone unturned, as she has always done, or whether she should be daring and leave some stories unfinished. Not to be sloppy, but because some of her readers like the precision, and others like being left with a few things to mull over, so they can imagine those ends for themselves. We had a lively discussion about this, and we all envied Sue’s good problem here. As far as leaving loose ends was concerned, we split approximately 50/50 on that. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. It’s nice to be able to please half of them. And I suspect the other half aren’t over-worried about it. Good luck with this book too.

Jonathan is still writing the column more or less every week, I did write a Christmas story that I wasn’t very happy with, and mostly I’m still obsessing about my anti-novel. Now I’ve realised I have to break every rule, even the last one, I’ve got to get down to rewriting it all. And I’m working in Southampton, and training myself up to running a 10k race in June, so writing has been a bit squeezed. But I’m here, writing the Jottings, at least. And I haven’t been ill.

Freda is much better. She’s more mobile, thank goodness, and there may not be a spring in her step right now, but the twinkle has returned to her eye. She had us entranced with her thoughts. She’s throwing out books,  thinking about a story about a lady in a chair, watching the birds, wishing they would lend her their wings. She found a book called Poets of the Year, and a poem she wrote about a wall at Seaview. She talked about ‘poetical prose’, in the spirit of poetry but still prose. She has a huge number of pieces of paper with her handwritten pieces on, and the handwritten manuscript of her autographical book, Dare to be Different. Fantastic.

Diana talked about her Amy Wild books. She has two new ones with the publishers and is talking with them about covers. They’re excited about these, and if they go well, there might be a rerelease of the whole series, suitably updated. They’re also selling like hotcakes in Japan. She’s got a commission to write an article in Writing magazine. She has been ill too.

Aidan has been ill. He has been continuing to write more of his Facebook page pieces, and is working on the big project, his Fantasy SF book.

Piers didn’t like Timeslip much, but has been enjoying the Tom Hanks short stories. He is 30k in to his second book about 1969. He has been very impressed with Gillie Davies, a poet who sails. He likes Oceans of My Soul, a blank verse book that’s not about sailing, but is influenced by sailing solo all over the world.

Maggie has just read the new R C Bridgestock book, Poetic Justice, a prequel to the Dylan series, and is full of praise for it.

End notes

We had a series of complications, resulting in several meetings being cancelled, but we settled in last Friday to a meeting like any other, with hardly a ripple to disturb our course. The new venue worked for us, there was a good turn-out, and we’ve all been getting on with our ridiculously busy lives, as well as struggling with our writing projects, with the usual variety of success and disaster. But we keep coming back.

Maggie is stepping down, but Jenni is stepping up, so it’s not the end of an era, it’s just a new chapter. We shall keep going. And Maggie isn’t going to disappear, she’ll still be turning up. Let’s hope this year sees more success for all of us. These are turbulent times, which may cause disruption, but also give everyone plenty to think about, and possibly a lot of new thoughts and ideas for new projects. And it’s probably good too to revisit current projects, because they are familiar parts of our internal lives. I never thought about writing as a form of lifeboat before, but I like that idea, so it’s mine now. Feel free to plagiarise it as and when you want.

My favourite recent quote goes like this: If you steal somebody else’s idea in your book, that’s called Plagiarism. But if you steal the ideas of many people, it’s called Research.

The next meeting will be on 7:00pm Friday 5th April 2019, at the Beefeater again. I shall miss it, but I look forward to reading the Jottings, whoever writes them.

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

Tom Gauld The Guardian

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings March 2019

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

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings October 2018

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.

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings August 2018

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.

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings July 2018

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, instead of, 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.

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings June 2018

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

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.

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings May 2018

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

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

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings April 13th 2018
« Older Entries

News Archive