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Three More Writers Workshops from BHDandMe* for the Carlisle Phil & Lit Society 7.00pm-9.00pm Room 8, Fisher Street Gallery.

February 15th,

LPW3 Emotional Language – How Writers Wind us Up!

A workshop that explores how writers use emotionally charged words to create their effects on the reader. We’ll examine extracts from several novels/short stories to see how they affect us individually and how those effects differ from person to person.

April 19th: Tense Exchanges – Playing with Past, Present and Future in the short story

June 21st: Changing Your Story – how film adaptations can put an original story to new uses (in First Blood, Chocolat, & Lord of the Rings)

Book through Darren Harper at philandlit.org or by Email to info@philandlit.org. 

*Mike Smith, aka Brindley Hallam Dennis

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Facets of Fiction: Writing the Short Story

– a short course by Mike Smith, devised for Darren Harper’s Carlisle Phil and Lit Society.

Thursdays, 1.00pm-3.00pm, 11th January to 15th March 2018. Room 8, Fisher Street, Carlisle.

£70 (£49 over 60/ £14 in receipt of benefits)

This 10 week Facets of Fiction course examines the short story elements: Beginnings, Endings, Middles, Locations in time and place, Ambience, Character, and Narrative voice. Short stories are short, sharp, subtle, and to be taken ‘at a sitting’. Includes sessions that take published short stories and examine how they have used those facets.

  1. Cut Up Exercise – Reconstructing stories reveals our grasp of the genre.
  2. Beginnings – What are they for? What must they do?
  3. Endings – The point of a story: the view it takes us to.
  4. Dialogue – how much, and where, and why? And how to do it…
  5. Character & Situation – Characters create situations, and are caught in them.
  6. Location – Stories take place, and time, and are made by them
  7. Ambience – every story has a mood, which might deepen, dissipate, or change.
  8. Narrators – Who is telling the story, and why, and to whom?
  9. Editing & Redrafting – exercises with prepared stories (c1000 words).
  10. Publication: How and Why? Options to consider.

Suggested Reading:

The Poetic Impulse by Mike Smith. Explores the ideas from which the course was constructed. Available on Amazon (or from the author).  Mike Smith, M.Litt (Glasgow) -aka Brindley Hallam Dennis- has won many prizes and awards for his writing.

Story by Robert McKee. Intended for Screenwriters, but useful for any story constructor!

Aristotle’s Poetics – An ancient overview of how tragedy works (even today!). Various translations (over the past centuries) are available. (McKee’s book draws heavily on it!)

Looking ahead, we’ve got two BHDandMe items on the Carlisle Phil & Lit Society programme: a workshop in December, and a ten week course beginning in January 2018.

The first, on Thursday 14th December is a two hour workshop (7.00pm-9.00pm) on ‘ambience’ in the short story, looking at how the mood/tone/atmosphere or ambience of a story is created, and used to put the reader in the right frame of mind to experience the eventual ending. (£10 – or £8 concessions). Booking and more details online at philandlit.org or from Darren Harper at info@philandlit.org

The second is a ten week Facets of Fiction course on Creative Writing (short story) weekly, Thursdays 1.00pm -3.00pm, from 11th January to 15th March, 2018. Beginnings, Middles,Ends, Narrative Voice, Locations (in time and place), character and ambience are among the subjects explored in a series of exercises, readings and discussions.  (£70, £49 over 60, £14 in receipt of benefits). Booking and more details online at philandlit.org or ffom Darren Harper at info@philandlit.org

The Carlisle Phil and Lit Society meets in Room 8, Fisher Street galleries, Carlisle, England.

Not just books….There will be readings too throughout the two days of the pop-up Bookshop at Waterstones (on Friday,7th and Saturday 8th of October, 2016). Writers from Carlisle Writers Group, the Facets of Fiction Writers Workshop, and elsewhere will be on hand to read and talk about their writing.

Why not come along, to listen and buy. This is a rare chance to hear and read the work that the literary establishment frequently overlooks…. Short-listed, Highly Commended, and Prize Winning writers, published by small Independent Publishers, and self-published. It’s worth remembering that writers as famous as Ted Hughes chose to self publish before and after their fame, and as many artists in the music industry do now in preference to working with the multi-national corporate companies! The internet is now giving writers a chance to sidestep the white-sliced bread and baked beans commercialism of the mainstream publishers, and giving them a global reach, which, ironically, means that your local writers might be better known in Hamburg or Beijing than they are in their home town.

Thanks to the good offices of Waterstones

in Carlisle, local artisan writers will be offering their wares during the weekend of Carlisle’s literary festival.

Carlisle and the Borders local writers, facilitated by the Carlisle Writers Group and members of the Facets of Fiction Writers Workshop, will be able to bring their publications to a wider audience during the weekend of Borderlines Book Festival.

A pop-up bookshop, inside the WATERSTONES store will run on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th October, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

There will also be short readings by local writers throughout the two days.

Many of the books on sale will have been published by small, independent publishers, which rarely get the benefit of reviews in the National and even local presses, despite the high quality of the work within – including prize-winning stories and poetry!

BHDandME shorn

For those in the know, the pop-up bookshop provides an exciting alternative to the usual literary offerings. It gives a chance to see, and buy, what the national papers rarely bother to review – the books published by small independent publishers, and authors. Celebrity breeds commerce, and vice versa, but Indie publishers and sole authors don’t have big advertising budgets and extensive distribution networks. Their books often remain unseen, and unsold.

None of this has anything to do with the quality of the writing! It doesn’t matter how good your book is, even the local papers are unlikely to review it (though Steve Matthews does a fine job in Carlisle!), and the nationals almost certainly won’t, unless it has been published by a well known company.

Things are changing. The internet is providing a means of publishing, and of getting a global reach. A curious side effect of this is that a writer is more likely to sell copies abroad than in his or her home town. The pop-up bookshop comes in here, offering local authors the chance to show their work to local readers.

Remember, these aren’t the white-sliced bread and baked beans high sellers that is the usual bookshop fodder, the household brands that we all know and reach for without thinking. The pop-up offers the artisan bakers and craft brewers of the literary world a chance to sell their goods, if you’ve a mind to try them.

Thanks to the good offices of Waterstones

in Carlisle, local artisan writers will be offering their wares during the weekend of Carlisle’s literary festival.

Carlisle and the Borders local writers, facilitated by the Carlisle Writers Group and members of the Facets of Fiction Writers Workshop, will be able to bring their publications to a wider audience during the weekend of Borderlines Book Festival.

A pop-up bookshop, inside the WATERSTONES store will run on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th October, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

There will also be short readings by local writers throughout the two days.

Many of the books on sale will have been published by small, independent publishers, which rarely get the benefit of reviews in the National and even local presses, despite the high quality of the work within – including prize-winning stories and poetry!

***********

 

BHDandMe got a freshly written poem into Acumen. It will appear in September, in Acumen 86. I don’t send off many poems these days: I don’t write many, but the last month or two has seen a small crop of half a dozen, which is cheering! Acumen, having encouraged me with publication several times over the years – including in their excellent 60th Anniversary anthology – always get first refusal, and you’ve probably got an inkling of how pleased I am that they chose not to use it on this occasion!

If you want to read some of Mike’s poetry, he has recently released the short collection, An Early Frost, available here.

If you want to read some of BHD’s stories, you could try, The Man Who Found A Barrel Full of Beer. Available here.

BFB coverDIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL

Thanks to the kind offices of Waterstones in Carlisle, local writers, led by the Carlisle Writers Group and members of the Facets of Fiction Writers Workshop, will be able to bring their publications to a wider audience during the weekend of Borderlines Book Festival.

A pop-up bookshop, inside the WATERSTONES store will run on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th October, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

There will also be short readings by local writers throughout the two days.

Many of the books on sale will have been published by small, independent publishers, which rarely get the benefit of reviews in the National and even local presses, despite the high quality of the work within – including prize-winning stories and poetry!

***********

Local anthologies can often be variable in their quality, and are certainly wide in their range of styles and contents. An anthology published for Christmas 2005 by CN Group Magazines, in association with various other bodies, including Theatre By The Lake  and The Great North Air Ambulance is one such. Offered for sale during a very short period of time over that Christmas fortnight, and at a very limited number of venues, the collection of short stories and poetry from 15 writers living locally did not do well. Unsaleable the following Christmas, as it bore the year of issue prominently on its front cover, I suspect many copies went for pulp. I have a fistful on my shelves, perhaps other lurk somewhere.

Eleven years on though, one story still comes to mind, and I read it from time to time. It’s a subtle story, suggesting more than it explicitly tells, but what it does tell is affirmative of more than a simply Christmas spirit. Josie Baxter’s story Time Bides For No Man is a first person account, told by an embittered divorcee who has turned down an invitation to spend Christmas with her daughter, and ex-husband, and his ‘new stick insect girlfriend.’ [- why is it that men in fiction are always attracted to stick-thin women? Surely they can’t be in real life?-ed.]

The story is tied to the locality with names that would mean nothing to people from even the south of the county! Easton and Roadhead, Stanwix and Penton, among others, are mentioned. Readers from afar might not recognise the places, but they will understand story. The narrator flees to an abandoned farmhouse, owned by her now institutionalised uncle. It is a ‘flat faced farmhouse’ which ‘may look foursquare and honest but they tell you nothing.’ And perhaps this story does something similar.

The house is in a bad state, and our narrator occupies the downstairs for a grim, lonely Christmas.  The Cumbrian borderland, that sparsely populated area north of the Brampton-Longtown road,  broods over her stay, ‘the ghosts of its violent past never quite gone away.’ But the neighbours see the smoke of her fires and come to check her out. They know that her Uncle Donald is no longer in residence. She turns them away, nursing her grievances alone. On Christmas Eve, though, a visitor she cannot dismiss, arrives: the farmer Andy Armstrong.

This is at the halfway point of the story, late perhaps for a major character to appear… but the story is not about him, or Donald, though what we shall now learn about them is crucial to it. We get a hint of that secret as Andy’s shortcomings are described: ‘He smelled of old vest and unwashed ears, and…..the ancient oilskin jacket had recently been too close to the back end of a cow.’ It is the almost cliched remark that follows we might overlook at a first reading: ‘No wonder he’d never married.’

Over whisky from cracked glasses the narrator and Andy talk about Donald, and she begins to realise, as we do, that these two old men, ostensibly rivals to the point of enmity since school days, have a very special bond. Her belief that Donald ‘never cared what anyone thought of him’ is challenged by Andy’s ‘some things is different.’  This, he confesses, will be the first Christmas day they have spent apart.

Andy persuades the narrator to take him, on Christmas day, to visit Donald in his nursing home, but he also gives her the advice that will change her life, and her outlook, and, in effect rehabilitate her: ‘one day you wake up and it’s gone and it’s all too late.’

This is one of those stories that makes me pleased to be in an anthology beside it (and one that makes me displeased to be in an anthology beside it!). It does, for me, what a story should do. It reaches out beyond its explicit self and gives us a glimpse of a larger theme, and it reaches out over the years as we read and revisit it. I don’t think I’ve met Josie Baxter, but if I ever do, I’ll remind her that she published this story, and thank her for it!

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For those interested in reading about the short story form, a third volume in Mike’s Readings For Writers series The Silent Life Within is now available on Amazon as a paperback or in Kindle format. This volume looks at stories from the late 17th century to 2014, by authors including H.G.Wells, Katherine Mansfield, Alphonse Daudet, and George Moore.

The Silent Life Within

Lanercost Festival takes place later this month, and as part of it Marilyn Messenger & Brindley Hallam Dennis will be reading from their Ambiguous Encounters collection of short stories, and from other collaborations.  The reading, at Dacre Hall, Lanercost Priory, a couple of miles east of Brampton, on Tuesday 21st June, will start at 12.00 noon.  Copies of their short story collection, and other books will be available on the day, or can be purchased here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the following Saturday, 25th June, at the same venue, Mike Smith (aka BHD!) will run a one day short course in the ‘short story,’ picking up several elements from his ‘Facets of Fiction Writers Workshops. Tickets  are available here.

 

It’s that Wednesday again…or at least, it will be on Wednesday….

Which Wednesday? This wednesday – the 20th of April!

Where? Cakes & Ale cafe, Castle Street in Carlisle, England!

When? 12.30-2.30pm ..unless you’re early, or late!

Who Cares? Anyone who’s a local writer, or wants to hang out with ,local writers, or be a local writer…

or anyone who isn’t local at all, but is a writer….

What for? to chew the fat, shoot the breeze, cobble the bones, hip the hop, dandle the doxy and anything you else you can think of that doesn’t have to involve performing your Art, or Workshopping your butt off!

Sounds fun…

So come along and put your tuppence worth in…………

BHDandMe in his English Derby....

BHDandMe in his English Derby….

Writers in the Carlisle (England) area interested in meeting up for an informal chat might like to know that the next session at Cakes and Ale cafe behind Bookcase on Castle Street, will be on Wednesday January 20th, between 12.30 and 2.30 pm. No performance, not a workshop, not a reading, just the chance to meet up with fellow writers and chew the fat, gristle, bones and meat of anything that needs chewing, and to shoot the breeze, the messenger (sic), the pianist – hope you get that one – and the rapids, but not the fellow-writers! Hope to see you there!IMG_7421

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWriters in the Carlisle (Cumbria) area looking for the chance to chat about their work, or what they are reading, to get feedback or just shoot the breeze, have a new drop-in venue to try out. Members of the Facets of Fiction Writers Workshop have undertaken to be available every first and third Wednesday of the month (12.30-2.30pm) at the new Cakes & Ale cafe on Castle Street Carlisle. There’s no fee, no format, and no agendas: but the F of F writers will make sure that there will be someone on hand to talk with, read to, or simply have a coffee with – the rest, as they say, is future. Why not come along and see what we can make of it? The first event is on November 18th, with follow up dates set for 2nd and 16th December….

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