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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 or by Email to 

*Mike Smith, aka Brindley Hallam Dennis


A writer friend of mine used to talk about people wanting ‘to have been’ writers, rather than simply ‘wanting to be’them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   What they aspired to was sitting on sofas in chats shows, not to facing down the blank page and getting a job done. It’s a persuasive argument, and one with more than a hint of good examples in it! Earlier this week someone described The Writers Quarter, and in particular its workshops, as being for ‘would-be’ writers. I was apoplectic. The clue is in the name The Writers Quarter. It’s for writers. I can’t share with you what I hit my ‘bitbox 2015’ – the file where I dump writing till I find somewhere for it go – with: I don’t know what cleaning products you have in house. Suffice it to say, I find the term patronising, and I try to avoid it. You’re a writer, in my book, from the moment you put pen to parchment, pencil to paper, or finger to keyboard, however badly.

Here’s what I might say about The Writers Quarter, with or without an apostrophe.

            Borderlines, Carlisle Book Festival draws nearer, and with it The Writers Quarter…not just for ‘would-be-wanna-be-could-be-should-be-mighta-bin & aren’t-being’ writers, but just for writers, and their readers – for am-being-will-be & already have-been writers, for published, private, public and unseen writers, for practising, practised, and made perfect writers (who’ll be very few); for you, me, he and she writers, and for exceptionally talented other Great Apes, who might have put digit to keypad, or stylus to tablet….

There’s a lot to tackle: what about Crichton Writers Flash Fiction Forum (Saturday 5th, lunchtime in the Fratry), where you can bring along and try out your up-to-500-word fictions and join in a debate about what flash fiction, might, could, ought, should, is, has or will be. Then bring ‘em along to our evening celebration at The Fratry, when David Gaffney will be revealing the winners of our L’al Crack Flash Fiction competition…among other delights!

If you are, aren’t, pretend to be or want to be a ‘would-be’ writer, why not come along to one of our workshops, and be an actual writer instead? We have a wonderful ‘would-be’ range of actual writers to engage with you, from the poet Josephine Dickinson to the military historian John Sadler; from the poet, playwright and short story writer (and a few etceteras) Vivien Jones(on writing ‘would-be’ memoir) to the successfully self-publishing Ruth Sutton. Carlisle Writers Group will be looking at the ‘would-be’ short story (Sunday 6th Sept at the Cathedral), and Marilyn Messenger – in the Border Galleries at Tullie House, on the Saturday afternoon (5th Sept) – will be encouraging you to engage with antique letters as a source of stories and inspiration.

There’s a chance too, to hear Martyn Halsall, Poetry in the Cathedral (Sunday), Marian Veevers, on Crime writing from archive sources, Janet Queen on Writing the Landscape (both in the Cathedral, Saturday 5th),  and David Kinsella on self-publishing online (Tullie House, Sunday), and Sue Fox & Irene Sanderson (Book Building, at Tullie House on the Saturday). Tom Harper will be leading a thriller writing workshop at the Crown & Mitre on the Saturday morning. What’s not to like? What’s not to do? And, also  on the Saturday, we shall have, for ONE DAY ONLY, a pop-up bookshop for local writers in the Cathedral grounds, courtesy of the Facets of Fiction Writers Workshop (and friends). – if you want details of how to get involved with the pop-up as a writer, e-mail BHDandMe at

You can find the full Borderlines programme here:


Three More Writing Days from Facets of Fiction for Autumn 2013 led by Mike Smith aka Brindley Hallam Dennis

12th October: Whose Story Is It? Variations on The Narrative Voice

[who is telling, about whom, and to whom?]

2nd November: Talking to Each Other: fictional dialogues

[Getting characters to converse]

7th December: Credibility & Authenticity Using Research & Experience

[knowledge, and bluff]

The F of F Writing days are built around a rolling series of discussion, exercise and review sessions, focussing on a specific area of fiction writing. They are intended to get you writing and to give you ideas and techniques for future use.

The groups are kept small, which demands high input, and output, from all course members.

The Writing Days run from 10.00am to around 4.30pm. Lunch is included.

£50 per session. £135 if all three are booked in advance.


Regular Facets of Fiction run fortnightly in groups of five 2-hour evening sessions for £40. These are workshop sessions looking at writing produced in advance, either from set ‘homework’ or from course members’ own ongoing longer-term projects. I have a group starting on 12th September with one or two places available…..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Will no doubt have noticed that I’ve had to change one of the dates for the Facets of Fiction Writers Days….. The Middle date is Saturday July 27th…..apologies for the error !TalkingtoOwlsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAPennySpitfire-frontcover

You might think so, but the blog is so short because I’ve been away for the weekend, taking part in the Nottingham Festival of Words, (at Nottingham) along with a slew (that’s a technical term) of other Pewter Rose Press authors. A good time, as they say, was had by all!


Upcoming (ho ho) this week is a last minute workshop I’ll be running for Crichton Writers at Dumfries – I’m an honorary member of Crichton writers (which is different from being an honorable one I guess). A short fiction exercise I think, which I’ve run past the Facets of Fiction writers a couple of times! It seems very easy… to begin with…heheheheheh.


Another piece of tittle-tattle (or three), is that another story of BHD’s, ‘And the Coloured Girls Go,’ will be performed on Thursday February 21st at London’s Poetry Cafe – 22 Betterton Street. Go there, if you’re in the vicinity, and vote for short story writer BHD on the evening. It’s an event called Jukebox Story (run by Steve Keywood and Stephanie Gerra – check out the Future Perfect website where the  ‘winning’ stories end up!). The brief is to write a story based on a well known song…..This months was ‘duets’. The story was nearly disqualified – becoming a feature of mine – but S&S tracked down a duet cover of it….. You don’t recognise the line? Of course ya do! Think Lou Reed. Think the wild side!

Come 25th February it’s Oysters in Hong Kong…. not a weekend away and an intimate meal for two …. but another BHD short story. This time performed for Liars League latest offshoot -offshoot, I said!  Liars League Hong Kong! Check it out on their website.

And why is it that in all the press furore about the hoarse meet in the burgers, we hear the word ‘contaminated’ over and again, but never a whisper of ‘adulterated’? I have a theory……

So that’s all there is this week. Nothing remotely intellectual about it. Nothing Clever! Is there ever?

So, anybody who finds this blog post ‘awesome’ is, I think we can say with absolutely certainty, in need of a good dictionary. Here’s a picture of folks enjoying LitCaff in Carlisle, by way of a reminder that the next one is on Wednesday 20th – with facal aig an oirr from South West Scotland in attendance!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA