Members’ News

Success in a variety of places

Congratulations to Derek Hulme, who has recently enjoyed success with a number of paintings displayed at Bewdley Gallery, one of which won a prize in ‘The Great Bewdley Paint Off’

Other members have been performing at various events with Leena at the Ledbury Poetry Festival and Kevin at the Worcester Fringe Festival as part of ‘The Story Knights.’

WWC Poets included in Anthology

Leena Batchelor, Kevin Brooke, Brian Comber and Ade Couper have been included in a very special anthology named Human Writes. Focused on the theme of Human Rights, the poems in the collection were chosen by former Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Ade Couper, alongside Amnesty Worcester and have been published by Black Pear Press.

Human Writes

Kevin Brooke

Kevin’s Young Adult story, ‘The Transformation’ has been selected for publication in the Annus Horribilis anthology, filled with stories set in 2022.



Leena Batchelor

Leena’s exhibition at The Commandery has gone well with very positive feedback. The original photographs and poems are being auctioned online to raise funds for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, which is being matched-funded by the UK Government. The auction runs until 14th May and bids can be placed here:

Space and Shadows – Support Ukraine


Kevin Brooke

Kevin has been busy with the Worcester Competitive Arts Festival. Event photographer, steward, adjudicator for the Young Writer competition, he achieved ‘Highly Commended’ in the Open Class Poetry competition. His book, Max & Luchia: The Game Makers was also utilised on the syllabus.

Kevin WCAF


Leena Batchelor

Leena will be at The Culture Cafe on Thursday 7th April.

The event takes place on every first Thursday of the month in the Swan Theatre Bar area, at which a different performer will take centre stage. 



Kevin Brooke

Kevin’s story, ‘Rude Awakening’ achieved Highly Commended and was then selected for publication in the Bag of Bones anthology. The Anthology reached Number 1 in the Horror Anthology Amazon Charts.



Leena Batchelor

Leena’s play ‘Out of the Darkness’ has been picked up by Christopher Whitehead school who are planning to perform it in May. The play is also due to be performed by Pershore High School.

In addition, Leena has launched a kickstarter project to raise funding for her exhibition at The Commandery

Tim Stavert

Tim Stavert is still participating in the ‘poem a day’ challenge, now that’s dedication!


Kevin Brooke

Two of Kevin’s stories have achieved Highly Commended and have also been selected for publication in the Glittery Literary January 2022. anthology. One of the stories is about The Krampus. The second one is about a shadow of a giant rabbit


Brian Comber

Brian has achieved multiple successes.  A poem was published in Spelt magazine in their Winter Issue, two poems have been accepted for publication by Selcouth Station and another, entitled ‘From the Baseball Ground’ has been published on the Football Poets website.

Go Brian!


Roz Levens

Roz is still participating in VSS365 on Twitter – Big Alice deserves her own hashtag! Roz also runs writing workshops via Zoom on Saturdays – email for more information. These have developed successful writers with many winning entries into Flash Fiction and other anthologies. She is also reading at Ivybridge library this week and has promised to delight us with her pieces in the near future.


Brian Comber achieves publication with Cerasus Poetry press

Brian’s second collection of poetry entitled ‘Preparing a Child for the Physical World’ has been published by Cerasus Poetry Press. There are further details on the Cerasus website that includes an opportunity to purchase the book directly.

It is also available to purchase via Amazon


She displaces bath water in the same way a thousand foot container ship displaces the ocean. The characters in a black & white film are unaware of their future. A duelling pistol is like a sea creature. No one whistles cedar-cedar-cedar-sticki-see-pee. You play in a burnt out car, oblivious to its history. A woman is disturbed by the ripples from a Hockney. You search for a lost dog, all the while calling the wrong name. Another woman falls from the sky. You take comfort from the ghost of your stillborn twin. Britten is not compared to Strummer. The touch of hands is one small step for a man… What or who connects all these events and do they prepare you for the physical world?


WWC Members published in the Glittery Literary Anthology THREE

Derek Hulme and Kevin Brooke are published in the Glittery Literary Anthology THREE. Both entries were ‘Highly Commended’ in the competition that ran from July to September, 2021.

The anthology is available to order via Amazon and all profit from the writing contest entry fees goes to charities fighting child poverty in the UK.


WWC Member awarded second place in a children’s story competition

Kevin Brooke has been awarded second place in the Glittery Literary Cherished Children’s Story Competition and achieved publication in the competition anthology. The competition ran from July to September, 2021 and Kevin’s story is available to view on the Glittery Literary website.

The anthology is available to order via Amazon and all profit from the writing contest entry fees goes to charities fighting child poverty in the UK.


Leena Batchelor

Former Worcestershire Poet Laureate Leena Batchelor and Poet-in-Residence for The Commandery in Worcester, has released a play. Combining poetry with dance and rock music, ‘Out of the Darkness – Twilight of Humanity’ focusses on climate change and offers a powerful message for all audiences.

‘Out of the Darkness’ features music by American rock supergroup Hollywood Vampires formed by Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and Johnny Depp who commented: ‘with ‘Out of the Darkness’, Leena has created a hugely important and timely piece of work, in which we are honoured to offer our own minor contribution. We salute all those involved, both in front of, and behind the scenes, for their expertise and good conscience in highlighting the concerns we all, as one species, face today. Sincerely, Alice, Joe & Johnny’.

‘Out of the Darkness’ will be performed at Worcester’s Henry Sandon Hall, Royal Porcelain Works on 29th October, 7pm. Tickets can be purchased directly.



WWC Members published in the Litfest Flash Fiction anthology

Leena Batchelor, Kevin Brooke and Roz Levens are published in the Flash Fiction anthology Carrots, Cream and Death. All of the stories in the anthology are based on entries to the Flash Fiction competition at the Worcestershire Literary Festival 2021. The book of Flash Fiction is available at Black Pear Press at which WWC members Tony Judge and Rod Griffiths are the owners (along with Polly Stretton).



Leena Batchelor

Leena is very excited to announce that her Worcestershire Poet laureate collection ‘Pearl Blades and Painted Silks’ will be launched by Black Pear Press on the 19th September 2021. The collection combines poetry, history and photographs, and takes the reader on a journey from personal recollections through to the age of debutante balls and surprising hidden histories from around the world. There are further details on Leena’s website.

C:/Users/HP/Documents/Writing Projects/Black Pear/Does My Bass/D


Jillian King

Jillian had an article published in the Worcester News on Thursday, 19th August in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section. Jillian headed the article as “Murder Most Fowl”, which was altered to “Why do we indulge gulls?”

“Dear Editor
I witnessed a murder the other evening. The victim, a plump pigeon oblivious to the approaching danger, was pecking peacefully around the base of a feeder situated on the lawn below my first-floor window. Suddenly two huge gulls swooped down. Now I’m used to the twilight screeching of the gang of gulls; unwelcome occupants of our residential building, but this cacophony of sound reached new heights of ear-splitting commotion. I peered out of my window and was horrified to see the two marauders attack the unsuspecting pigeon. They tore at it with their sharp beaks and quite literately pecked the poor creature to death. The gulls’ excited screeching and calling was intensified by the pitiful, very loud screaming of the victim. I stood transfixed by the horrifying scene below me. The gulls, not content with the murder, proceeded to tear the poor pigeon to pieces, devouring it as they did. It would have taken far too long for me to reach the ground floor of our building to try and intercede, and besides, I was quite terrified by the blatant aggression shown by these two gulls…Now, you tell me, are gulls predators or scavengers? This could have been a family pet, a small child, heaven forbid. So why on earth are we protecting such aggressive, fast multiplying, very scary creatures?
Jillian King
St John’s”

Tony Judge

Tony is part of the Black Pear Press team that has supported so many members of the writers circle in achieving publication and in offering them a platform for their writing.

He will be launching his children’s novel, Lost, on Sunday, 22nd August at 4pm alongside Polly Stretton. Further details are available on the Facebook events page


When Jack and his friend Barney find a mysterious sword at the bottom of the lake, they stumble into a strange quest to return it to its rightful owner. On the way they encounter a confused knight who doesn’t seem to understand the modern world. Did we mention the furious French woman, the dangerous dog, the terrifying tiger and the petrified parents?


Lost - front cover-page-0

Polly Stretton

Polly is a recent member of Worcester Writers’ Circle. She is part of the Black Pear Press team that has supported so many members of the writers circle in achieving publication and in offering them a platform for their writing.

Her poems have been widely published in previous collections, online, and in anthologies. Polly’s first collection, Girl’s Got Rhythm, was followed by Chatterton, a series of poems about the tragic young poet Thomas Chatterton. Between 2016-2018 she collated and edited four anthologies of WWI poems. The Alchemy of 42, a collection of poems written to prompts for the spoken word event ’42Worcester’, was published in 2020. Polly is the Chair of the Open University Poetry Society.

Polly will be launching her poetry collection Growing Places, and as described by former Staffordshire poet laureate, Gary Longden as “a beautiful collection of place, some real, some imagined, and of identity” on Sunday, 22nd August at 4pm alongside Tony Judge. Further details are available on the Facebook events page.


Growing Places - front cover - JPEG

Roz Levens

We all know that Roz is the Queen of Flash Fiction and this has been proven once again in yet another victory in the Worcester Litfest Flash Fiction Slam in June 2021. She really is a marvel and we will miss her greatly as she moves away to a seaside surroundings of Yelverton.

Her victory means that she possesses not one, not two, but THREE, litfest Flash Fiction Slam trophies. Will this record ever be beaten? We suspect not! Further details about the competition are on the Worcestershire Litfest website


Kevin Brooke

Kevin has been published in the Glittery Literary July Anthology after two of his stories were highly commended in the Spring/Summer competition. ‘The Immortal’ told of a pact with the Mountain King. ‘Open Wounds’ focussed on a self-harming adult, abused as a child, who was seeking peace in later life


Leena Batchelor

Leena is venturing into the world of slam poetry and will be participating in the Ledbury Poetry Festival slam on 10th July – if you’d like to support her, the details are available on the Ledbury Festival Poetry slam webpage.

Leena is also taking part in this year’s PoArtry event being run by Rick Sanders. There are many, other familiar names on the list.

Kevin Brooke  

Three years in the making, Kevin’s YA novel, The Objectors, is due to launch on Sunday, 18th July at 4pm. In these dystopian times, the Young Adult novel with 42 chapters, and set in 2042, will enter the world via the medium of Zoom. Details of the launch can be found on the Black Pear Press Facebook events page.

If you’d like a sneak preview before the launch, it’s available to pre-order now.

Brian Comber
Brian Comber will be launching his debut poetry collection on 13 June 2021. Details appear on the Black Pear Press Facebook page, or email Black Pear Press for details and the zoom link. The books is now available for pre-order and will be despatched as soon as possible.
Panopticon - cover final-page-0


Roz Levens  

Flash Fiction extraordinaire, Roz Levens, has been shortlisted in the Worcestershire Litfest Flash Fiction competition. It is the fourth year in a row that Roz has achieved this feat. She is also a dual winner of the Worcestershire Litfest Flash Fiction Slam that takes place at the end of the festival.

Kevin Brooke
A poem entitled ‘Death of a Forest’, and based on a once beautiful forest destroyed in the name of progress, is shortlisted in a Word Stafford competition on the theme of ‘places.’    

Leena Batchelor

Leena has been asked by BBC Radio to perform in their Airwaves Festival over the May Bank Holiday weekend, 2021. This is a virtual festival which will be showcased across all local BBC Radio stations. The bill includes not only many well-known local poets (Charley Barnes, Spoz, and many others) but also the likes of Rag ‘n Bone Man, Gabrielle, Deacon Blue – a huge honour and great opportunity to get spoken word into mainstream performance art.


Great news for members of Worcester Writers’ Circle

Roz Levens won 2nd prize in April 2021 Glittery Literary’s Long Story competition, with Derek Hulme and Leena Batchelor receiving ‘highly commended’ for their entries. All have had their submissions printed in an anthology which is available from Amazon – the collection is raising funds to tackle child poverty.


Leena Batchelor

Fantastic news for Worcester Writer’s Circle Member (and Secretary) who has become the 10th Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2020-2021. In a tense final, Leena read a fantastic poem on the theme of Masks and Portraits, along with a poem about her family that had us all in tears!

She is a very deserved winner and further details can be found here.

Roz Levens

Writer, storyteller and encour

ager of writing in others, our wonderful chairperson, Roz, has been published by Black Pear Press. After many successes in short story anthologies, publications such as People’s Friend and after winning several writing competitions, Pack of Lies, is a wonderful full-length novel.

A synopsis is as follows:

“Graham has taken one risk too many. Now he owes a lot of money to the wrong people, and he is running for his life. Will the women he has duped unite to save him? Is he even worth saving?”

Congratulations Roz Levens. We suspect there will be many more books to come.


Cover image for a play by Mark Billen

Mark Billen

More great news for Mark!

Aladdin’s Arabian Nightmare has been published by Silver Birchington Plays.

The publisher said: ‘

I have really enjoyed it – very funny and fast-moving and beautifully constructed.’

More information about Mark’s school plays can be found on his website.

Dennis Loynes

Great news for Dennis – A new publication called ‘Pathway to Love’ is about to be released. It is a delightful story to make a welcome change from reading about Cov 19.

Details can be found via the Amazon website

Congratulations Dennis!

Pathway to Love

Leena Batchelor


Leena Batchelor has joined the ranks of authors on the storytelling site Yours2Read (

Yours2Read publishes stories from around the world and sends them directly to mobiles, laptops, iPads and desktops at a time and place to suit the busiest of lifestyles.

Her story, ‘Constricted’, was based on one of the prompts from a Worcester Writers’ Circle meeting. A thought-provoking story, Leena was encouraged by the feedback from her fellow writers at the circle to sent it, fingers crossed, to the publishers.

They loved it too!

Mark Billen

Our international playwright, Mark Billen, has seen his plays being performed in theatres across the world.

In February 2020, there will be a production a little closer to home and this time in Somerset.

Congratulations to Mark!

Cinderella's sisters

Kevin Brooke

Kevin visits a number of Worcestershire Schools and in partnership with Seraphim Bryant as The Story Knights, they encourage reading, writing and illustration.

On 13th December, they were fortunate to be invited into Cranham Primary School.

Mark Billen

More good news from Mark Billen who sent this info about his popular plays:

Mark's plays.pngCongratulations once again, Mark!

Mike Alma and Polly Stretton

Mike and Polly had a stall at the ‘Worcestershire Remembers WWI’ exhibition at The Guildhall in Worcester 4 August 2018. Mike took along copies of ‘Voices of 1919’ and ‘Fragments of the Great War–My Family at War’ and Polly copies of the three anthologies compiled to celebrate the 100 years since the Great War.

The exhibition was well-attended and it was good to see so many visitors interested in and talking about the poetry and prose on display.

Mark Billen

Excellent news from Mark Billen. His play ‘Cinderella’s Sisters…happy ever after?’ is to be performed in California near to Christmas. Good news about Mark’s teddy bears, too. This is what Mark said: Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 18.04.02.png

Dennis Loynes

Good news from Circle member Dennis Loynes, who has had his children’s novel Santa’s Challenges published. It’s available via Amazon. Click here to get your copy.

It goes without saying that this book is the perfect Christmas gift!

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 15.11.25.png

Go on! Get into the Christmas spirit! 🙂

Kevin Brooke

Fab news from Circle member Kevin Brooke, his work with a Pershore school is recognised in the press. The Rotary Club of Pershore gave him accolades for encouraging children to write.

The same article appeared in many local papers, but, in case you missed it, to see what Hereford Times, Worcester News and the Daily Echo reported click here.

Dennis Loynes

Dennis has confirmed that Trials of Love was published by Silverwood Books Ltd on the 29th May 2017.
It is available through Amazon at £9.99 paperback or £2.99 on Kindle.
For Worcester Writers’ Circle members, Dennis has a few copies left available at £7.99.

Mark Billen

Mark Billen’s play.’Bl … Bl.. Bluebeard!’ is being performed by Ewell Castle School during November 2017. This will be the eighteenth production of the play since publication. Congratulations Mark!

And Mark’s second collection of short stories When The Gorse Is In Bloom is now available from Black Pear Press. Click here for details and to get your copy.

C:/Users/Tony/Documents/Writing Projects/Black Pear/When The Gor

Rod Griffiths

Congratulations to Rod Griffiths on his success with a short story published by an American website, he would like to share this information with the Circle:

The .pdf, downloadable by clicking the link: The-NW-1, is a new magazine. It is published by a woman in the US, Shaunta Grimes, who runs all sorts of classes and groups on the web. She is so productive that Rod sometimes wonders if she is six people!

She recently set up a Patreon subscription and one of the things she is offering to her membership is this magazine, subs start at $3 (about £2.40). Rod sent a submission for the first issue and was accepted. You can see it in the .pdf above. Rod’s is four from the end.

She says the contibutors will be paid. You can see her website at:

More great news from Mark Billen

Mark’s play ‘Bl … Bl … Bluebeard!’ has been selected for production by Cranmore School, Surrey for production in July. This will be the seventeenth production since publication.

Mark Billen

Many congratulations to Mark Billen who has recently heard that Meridian Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, are performing his play ‘The Love for Three Oranges’ during April 2017.

News from Mark at the end of 2016 included that his play ‘Seeking Sleeping Beauty’ was performed by  Arc Juniors Theatre Company, Pontypridd in December…


‘All in the Stars’ was performed by International Community School of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November.

Dennis Loynes

Dennis is pleased to announce his new website:  click on the link to take a look.

Polly Stretton

Polly’s poem Bittersweet made the short list for the 2016 Paragram Poetry Prize, the other two poems she entered into the competition Farewell and If you didn’t get this message call me gained ‘Paragram’s Picks‘ votes and will appear alongside Bittersweet in the Paragram anthology later this year. Congratulations to Polly.

Kieran Davis

Lacuna - front cover

Wonderful news! Kieran is to launch his first collection of poetry ‘Lacuna’ at Drummonds Bar, The Swan With Two Nicks, 28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP Sunday 14 August 2016.

There will be book signing and poetry readings from Kieran, ably aided by Alan Durham, Mike Alma and Polly Stretton. Worcestershire Poet Laureate Suz Winspear will also be performing some of her poems.

The launch will start at 4pm and end around 6pm with a party afterwards at the same venue. Come along and join in the fun.

An article about Kieran, the launch of his book and the award he recently won appears in Worcester News.

Polly  Stretton
GGR BPP Front Cover - Stretton

Following publication of Girl’s Got Rhythm in 2012, a second edition was launched in 2014 and has been republished in 2016.

In 2014, Polly also created a series of poems about Thomas Chatterton from the viewpoints of those who loved or were somehow influenced by him, gathered around the foot of his deathbed, remembering and commenting on his life.

Chatterton Front Cover–Stretton

Polly says, ‘I’ve loved the Henry Wallis painting (shown on the pamphlet cover) since I studied the pre-Raphaelites – it’s been the inspiration for this series.’

Chatterton is available as an eBook for Kindle and other platforms from Amazon.

Kevin Brooke

Good to see Kevin’s commendation from the Erewash 2015 Short Story Competition – congratulations 🙂

Highly Commended awarded to Kevin Brooke, Worcester for Alternate Voices
Judge’s  comments: A poignant story of William finally finding his place in the world.

Tony Bryan

Congratulations to Tony on receiving an encouraging email from Evolution:

Thank you for submitting your script to Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival 2015.
After a long reading and deliberating process, a decision had to be made. Unfortunately your script was not selected as the winner but it got to the 3rd round and was one of our top choices.
We wish you all the best for future awards, keep up the good work!

The story that Rod wrote for the Wordfactory that was one of the winners in their Modern Fables competition is now up on their website along with the other winners. See it at:

Congratulations, Rod.

…and there’s more news from Kevin Brooke!

A short piece by Kevin Brookes was published in The Guardian, Saturday 14 November, in the Family Life section under the heading of Playlist see: Playlist: Nan’s faith in the power of a smile. It was a uni assignment, which also assures Kevin of an ‘A’ in his studies. Congratulations to Kevin. So proud of you!

International Success For Worcester Writer – Kevin Brooke


Worcester writer Kevin Brooke has sent more copies of Jimmy Cricket, his latest YA novel, to Austria; his librarian contact, Linda, said:

‘… I’ve spoken to the teacher who is using them and she
confirms they are being used in a ‘Fachschule für Sozialberufe’, with
Fachschule being a special, specific school for school leavers and
Sozialberufe, literally meaning Social Jobs.

‘She has explained that the books will be used in her lessons “in a
cross-curricular way, combining English language and reading in a foreign language plus discussing the content / the topic of the book about a troubled boy which is also relevant for our students as we are in a social college.”‘

Black Pear Press are delighted to pass on this news from one of our local writers, further details about Kevin’s book are available at:

With acknowledgement to the staff member of Clarence Park who took this photo
With acknowledgement to the staff member of Clarence Park who took this photo

Jill Peer

Jill Peer launched her new Magical Rune Book Weds 25th November 2015 at Malvern Lounge Bar, near Abbey Gateway in Malvern.

Learn to read and make your own special runes You can learn about runes on Jill’s course, which begins in January 2016–for details see

Rod Griffiths

Hearty congratulations to Rod who was one of the winners of the Wordfactory Fables for a Modern World Short Story Competition
The results are on their web site click here.
Rod says, ‘The story is 1900 words, so a bit long for reading at WWC or at Speakeasy. What was particularly cool was that one of the lecturers on the my MA course was one of the guest speakers at the event where it was announced. The best sucking up to teacher ever!’

Polly Stretton (previously Robinson)
Good news from Polly, two of her poems will appear in the 2016 Paragram Anthology.

More congratulations to Kevin Brooke
His poem ‘Doggy Bags’ will be published in the poetry section of Kishboo magazine in the January 2016 edition – great news 🙂

Kevin Brooke
Congratulations to Kevin on his recent success, marvellous to have a commendation.

Kevin-for WWC website 1

Mark Billen
A successful playwright, Mark Billen has turned his hand to short stories. He says, ‘You won’t find The Forest, Whytteford, Humbury, Salchester, or any of the villages, on a map.’ His wonderful locations in which ‘Tales from the Forest’ is set include Whytteford, with a church in ‘a rather isolated spot in a hidden valley,’ and Brookford, where Great-Aunt Brenda lived.

Front Cover Tales

As a successful playwright, Mark continues to have his plays for children such as ‘Cinderella’s Sisters’ and ‘The Love for Three Oranges’ performed worldwide.

You can get copies of Mark’s first book of short stories direct from Black Pear Press or from Amazon.

Kevin Brooke
Kevin’s short story ‘The Jogger In The Park’ has been selected for the Black Pear Press Competition Anthology ‘Seaglass And Other Stories’ – congratulations Kevin from all at WWC.

Kevin’s story ‘Running Away’ has won first place in the 2014 Erewash Writers’ Open Short Story Competition 2014.

The Judge, Malcolm Welshman, chose Kevin’s story for first place and said, “Running Away was…superbly written. So much so it outclassed the rest and so headed my list.”

Congratulations Kevin.

Sue Pritchard
Writing as Frances Bennett, Sue’s first thriller Seeds of Destruction was published and launched recently.  The novel features celebrity chef, Hester, whose orderly life is thrown into chaos by her stepson,Simon. Hester views Simon with maternal affection, unaware that he harbours a dangerous obsession.
The seeds of destruction have their roots in Simon’s bitter and lonely childhood. On the death of his grandfather he becomes wealthy enough to abandon his teaching job and, with ruthless determination, plans to remove anyone who stands between him and the attainment of his dream. Gradually losing all touch with reality, his behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre, with terrifying, destructive consequences.

Front Cover Seeds

Seeds of Destruction was launched in October 2014 at St Swithun’s Institute, to considerable acclaim.

For your copy go to:

Polly Stretton (previously Robinson)
Polly had two poems exhibited in the basement of Croome Court as part of the ‘Soul to Sole’ project, one  about the 2nd Earl’s wife, Anne Somerset, Countess of Croome, and the other  about the head gardener in the 18th century, William Dean, who wrote the Hortus Croomensis. Polly was pleased to be invited to continue her association with Croome as one of the ‘Croome Poets’ who will be leading projects such as walking tours, working with young writers, and writing and performing poetry in Croome Park in 2015.

Her latest publication successes include two poems in the Paragram Poetry Anthology 2016.

Alan Durham
Alan launched his first novel The Hen Race Sunday 26 October at Benedictos in Sidbury, Worcester – a great success.

The Hen Race

Young Tom York is growing up in a railway community. An idyllic childhood sees Tom learn about hens, trains, ballroom dancing and the folly of climbing onto the pig sty roof.  In due course, Tom discovers the truth of the situation, his parents are struggling to cope with scars from WWII. This is a time of mangles and tin baths, love, laughter and crises, when strong communities worked together to achieve the near miraculous. Based on a true story, The Hen Race is a celebration of survival, of modest heorism and the extraordinary courage of ordinary people.

Alan says, ‘I’m an old bloke who writes a bit.’ He enjoys writing short stories and the occasional rhyming thing.

The Hen Race has ‘been floating around’ in his mind for over forty years; some would say its publication is long overdue! It’s set in the 1950s, a decade roughly coincidental with the early years of Alan’s life. He was brought up in the East Riding of Yorkshire and now lives in Worcestershire.

Kevin Brooke’s book launch at The Hive in September 2014 saw a full house listening avidly to extracts from this story about a boy.

Jimmy Cricket front cover

Jimmy is fifteen. His parents have been killed in a motorway accident. When he’s forced to move over a hundred miles to live with his nan, Jimmy struggles to cope with the upheaval in his life. His one real friend, Dean, has even bigger problems than Jimmy, and together they can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Then they are arrested for shoplifting. While all this is going on, a girl called Dayla arrives on the scene to complicate things further.

Jimmy becomes involved in a bereavement club with a difference, he is given the chance to find some stability at last. The question is—will he take the opportunity?

On the back of recent successes – both highly commended and runner-up in two separate national short story competitions – Kevin Brooke announces the publication of his new book, Jimmy Cricket, aimed at early teens.

‘There’s no more exciting yet terrifying time in your life than early to mid-teens,’ he said. ‘Seen through the eyes of the main character, Jimmy Latham, this story shows how teenagers can, with the right support, survive just about anything. Set just after Jimmy’s fifteenth birthday and a year after the death of his parents in a car accident his life is in disarray. But then…he’s given the chance to focus on something positive.’

We asked Kevin to tell us more about the main character and the story.

‘Does he get himself into trouble along the way? Oh yes. Does he get involved with things that he shouldn’t? Of course he does. Does he fall in love? Try and show me a teenager who doesn’t. Does he finally, with the help of those around him, sort himself out? Well, you’ll just have to read the book and find out the answer!’

Although aimed at teenagers, Black Pear Press is convinced Jimmy Cricket will be successful as a crossover book; a spokesperson said, ‘It’s a rare opportunity to support a local author who knows his target audience so well. When we read Jimmy Cricket we couldn’t put it down; it has great ‘PTQ’ (page turning qualities).

‘I think adults will enjoy the story as well,’ Kevin added. ‘It may even give the parents the opportunity to find out what their sons and daughters are really getting up to…’

Jimmy Cricket is published by Black Pear Press

Mark Billen
In 2014, Mark had two plays published:
Cinderella’s Sisters … happy ever after? Published by Lazy Bee Scripts.
A production has been booked by Dreamaker Drama Education Centre, Beijing for January 2015. (That’s how they spell Dream Maker!)
Aladdin’s Arabian Nightmare is published by Comedy Plays.

The Henry and Fred series now has twelve titles. The latest is ‘Martin and Miriam’s New Friend’. The Henry and Fred books can be purchased at the Henry and Fred website.
.Henry & Fred Front Cover Mark Billen

Mark’s well-established play Seeking Sleeping Beauty was performed by the University of Derby Students’ Union Theatre Society 5th and 6th December 2014 in Derby UK.
All of Mark’s titles are sold on a non-profit basis in aid of Action for Children.

Kevin Brooke – The Roman Citizens from Class 6B
The Roman Citizens From Class 6B

Worcester Writers’ Circle member Kevin Brooke says:

I’m a keen writer of children’s fiction, who after attempting a first novel some five years ago, then took a Children’s writing course to show me where I’d gone badly wrong! Since the course, my highlights include a short story about a Spring Fairy called Lottie for children with an approximate reading age of 5-7 years, a number of childrens poems about school days aimed at approx 8-11 as well as the recently published The Roman Citizens From Class 6B.

With the main character Ben being ten years old, The Roman Citizens From Class 6B is aimed a reading age of 6-10. Roman History has always fascinated me and though the story is not meant as an educational piece, it does cover some of the aspects studied by children at Key Stage 2. It includes a battle scene, a chariot race in the Circus Maximus, a day in the Roman Senate and a daring rescue of a slave girl called Phina from the lions in the Colosseum. After hiding in the Catacombs, Ben draws one last picture. Moments later, he, Calum, Maisie and Phina are transported back to England – 61AD England to be precise where they are soon charging towards the Roman Army alongside Boudicca, the Iceni Queen.

Kevin’s book is available from Amazon.

Polly  Stretton – Polly was one of six winning finalists in a dVerse poetry competition. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the Paragram Poetry Prize with her poem Latent.

Tony Judge’s novel, Sirocco Express, was reviewed by, the website for people taking a travelling break from education or their career. Here is what the reviewer had to say:

“Here’s an unusual travel tale. A young Nigerian student sets out from Lagos to travel by truck across the desert towards Europe.”

Initially naïve, Adebayo soon realises that his “escorts” Odion and Dele are not quite what they seemed.

He has paid a fortune for a ride in a truck operated as a business by people smugglers transporting people desperate to escape the poverty of their various homelands. Adebayo is plunged into a brutal, callous and selfish world as the truck makes its way from Lagos through Benin, Mali and on northwards till, two days away from Marrakech Adebayo is attacked and abandoned by Dele and left for dead.

He is rescued and cared for by an elderly couple then, walking through forest for a week and sleeping rough, finally he makes it to the Spanish enclave of Ceuto, Morocco, – and the high, double security fence designed to prevent would-be migrants into Europe from reaching their destination.

We won’t spoil the ending – you’ll have to read it for yourselves if you want to find out whether Adebayo reaches his goal.

This is a vivid account of the extreme ordeal many migrants undergo in their search for a better, more secure life.

One thought on “Members’ News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s