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.
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:
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!
Go on! Get into the Christmas spirit! 🙂
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.
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.
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: https://www.patreon.com/ninjawriters
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.
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 is pleased to announce his new website: http://www.dennisloyneswriter.com/ click on the link to take a look.
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.
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.
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.
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: www.thewordfactory.tv/site/winning-stories
…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: www.blackpear.net
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 www.jillpeertreatments.com
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 🙂
Congratulations to Kevin on his recent success, marvellous to have a commendation.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Seeds of Destruction was launched in October 2014 at St Swithun’s Institute, to considerable acclaim.
For your copy go to: blackpear.net
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 launched his first novel The Hen Race Sunday 26 October at Benedictos in Sidbury, Worcester – a great success.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.gap-year.com www.gap-year.com, the website for people taking a travelling break from education or their career. Here is what the Gap-Year.com 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.