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Dymock: Daffodils and poets by Sheila Johnson

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 Welcome to part 2 of my Gloucestershire writers and poets. At this time of year Dymock is a pretty little village in the west of Gloucestershire just 4 miles south of Ledbury. In the springtime it is alive with fields of Daffodils. At the start of the 19th century, there was still a railway line that linked Dymock with London. The locals would pick the daffodils - even the young children missed school to do this - and the bunches would be sent post haste by rail to London for immediate sale. The daffodils still grace the fields in and near Dymock but now they aren't allowed to be picked, although you can wander through fields of them and enjoy the sight as we did. This easy access to London also brought a group of poets to the area for a very short while. Collectively these poets have become known as the Georgian or the Dymock poets.  Lascelles Abercrombie was the first to arrive from Liverpool with his wife and family. A couple of years later his friend Wilfrid Gibson and his wif

'What kind of writer are you?' by Deborah Jenkins

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                                                      Do you ever ask yourself this question? I do, at times. What kind of writer am I? I want to be easy-going, humble, generous, welcoming constructive criticism, delighting in the success of others. In reality, most of the time I manage to be some of these. I am not so good at others. Occasionally, I go to bed with an intense dislike for myself because I failed to be that writer. There are people in ACW, and in the writing community at large, who seem to me to embody many if not all of the great qualities above. I call them 'open hearted writers'. They are just so good at talking about writing naturally, encouraging others, receiving advice gladly, championing fellow writers, giving of their time. Of course the public face never tells the whole story. Who hasn't rolled their eyes when receiving negative feedback or felt a twinge of jealousy observing another's success? We are human after all. But what I find intriguing

Behind the Lines, by Ben Jeapes

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Image by Tri Le from Pixabay I was approached by a lady who wanted help writing a memoir of a particular holiday from her childhood. She remembered it all quite clearly: the caravan park, the countryside, the mixed group of children she had befriended and shared adventures with. It had marked a turning point in her life. But it wasn’t the writing itself that she wanted help with. As she had started writing, she had realised there was one major item that she didn’t remember, and that was the kids themselves. She remembered the basic fact of their existence, but she had related to them with all the insight of a typical 11-year-old; which is to say, not very much. She had no idea about their inner characters; what made them tick; how they came to be on the same caravan site at the same time. And so, based on what she did remember, my task was to draw up character profiles for a selection of children aged 9-11, of different classes and backgrounds, all alive in 19

Tears of a clown

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Den Trushtin on Unsplash Humour can be very personal. What makes one person cry with laughter can leave another person bemused or baffled. Hidden camera shows that made many of us chuckle in the eighties and nineties are a prime example, unless we were the recipient of course.  When pranks go wrong they can have devastating consequences, which is the theme of a novel that I've recently finished, and I loved. It’s called The Prank , and it's the astonishing debut by L.V Matthews. A fantastic thriller with a tremendous heart.  Liv is a good friend from the vss365 writing community on Twitter. I’ve known her since July 2019, when she was the prompt host for July – now the host only gets two weeks! She gave us wonderful words like fury, unfurl and equanimity – which though at first baffled by, I used to write one of my favourite very short stories (vss).  Prompted by Georgie’s brilliant post last month on small beginnings, I was intrigued as to how you go from a vss to a full le

Did You Know I Met Moses?

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I saw a joke on the ACW Facebook where three people were advertising their books, the first two stated proudly they’d thoroughly immersed themselves in their subject, experiencing everything first-hand before writing their books while the third person, who’d written a murder mystery, looked rather bemused. It made me chuckle but it got me thinking. Is writing more authentic if we, as writers, experience what we’re writing about? Should we stick to only what we know or can we simply learn everything from Google? I mean, it’s so easy now to research anything these days! Do writers even have a choice? Once writers get a name for themselves they can often be commissioned to write on subjects they know little about which they accept because they need to put bread on the table. I remember a good few years ago listening to a very talented author speaking about their books; meaty, cleverly written, very grown-up, knowledgeable books. This author was passionate about their subject. However, the

Little Women on the Socials

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  The other day, up to my eyes in a pile of freelance work and rapidly running out of adjectives, I gazed out of the window at the shouting yellow of the forsythia bush, rampant against the intense blue spring sky. My mind wandered, often a good thing. How, I wondered, would Mrs March, matriarch of her family in “Little Women”, handle social media? How would she cope with her rich neighbours, Mrs Gardiner and Mrs Moffat and their constant posts? However tired she is from a day working at the rooms and helping out the poor Hummels, Mrs March always finds time to write in her journal before she says her prayers and retires for the night. Let us peer over her shoulder and read a few entries, before she takes her nightly rest. 24th December 1861 Another hard day getting all the boxes ready to go. I did not come home for dinner and was tired and hungry when I returned at six. The girls were a little out of sorts, I thought, but we read dear Father’s letter and I remained cheerful as he wo

Gazing into Gethsamene – pondering on post-pandemic writing

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Pixabay image in public domain I’ve never been to Eyam, the Derbyshire village whose inhabitants took the astonishing decision to quarantine themselves when the Black Death hit the village between the years 1665-66. The villagers’ astonishing act of self-sacrifice doomed them but saved the plague from spreading further throughout England. By autumn 1666, the worst of the plague was over, but it had exacted a terrible cost. Whole families in Eyam had been wiped out. One woman, Elizabeth Hancock, had to bury her husband and six children all by herself, as people were too scared of the plague to come and help her. Her family’s graves stand in a separate egg-shaped enclosure known as the Riley Graves, kept now by the National Trust and Historic England. I Googled the images, and they are haunting. I can scarcely imagine the terrible grief and sorrow of poor Elizabeth Hancock. I felt the same anguish and desolation when I saw a famine cemetery in County Clare, on the spectacular west co

Easter - A Time of Death and Grief, a Time of Life and Hope - by SC Skillman

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 As I write this on Easter Sunday the day has been full of words and signs and images of hope and joy. This morning in his service from Canterbury Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke of death as the great lie: death doesn't have the last word. I found his words inspiring and uplifting. Later today I heard from a friend of the death of her sister, just yesterday, on Easter Saturday. And I was immediately reminded of the Archbishop's words.  This was a very sad death, and the lady who died was someone I have known since the age of 16, of whom I have many happy memories. She was funny, lively, kind and caring.  Yet she came to a very sad end. This picture of tulips, a palm cross and a lighted candle to me summarises my feelings.  The tulips represent hope and life and beauty, and the sheer joy that is in this world. The palm cross represents Christ's passion, his suffering, and his resurrection, in which so many have placed their faith over the centuri

A SABBATH DAY'S REST IN THE TOMB by Bobbie Ann Cole

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  Yesterday, we remembered Jesus’ death on the cross as the Passover came in. Passover celebrates God instructing Moses to tell the Children of Israel to slaughter a lamb and daub its blood on their doorposts, so that the Angel of Death would pass over their houses and they would be spared the 10 th Plague – Death of the Firstborn. This final, devastating plague brought the Egyptians to their knees and made Pharaoh free the Children of Israel from slavery, so that they could begin their journey to God’s Promised Land. As Jesus was dying on the cross, long lines of men holding their lamb or goat ready for sacrifice waited and priests formed conveyer belts, passing cups of spilled blood from each slaughtered animal through the file to the high priest, who sprinkled the blood on the altar. At 3 pm, as Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ and expired, the sacrificial ritual was finished. Jesus is our saving Passover Lamb. He is also our sacrificial lamb—our atonement offering and our t

A Glimmer of Hope

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On this Good Friday as we look and reflect on the scene of the cross, amid the unspeakable pain, and suffering, we can see a glimpse of a new beginning. Even in the darkest time, if we search for it, there can be a glimmer of hope. “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21 At Calvary most of Jesus’ followers had fled in fear there only remained one or two of those who loved Him the most, standing by, watching helplessly. But in the horror of those final moments, there was forged an unlikely alliance. Two men, from opposing parties, suddenly stepped out of the shadows. They had enquired, they had expressed an interest, and they had responded to Jesus’ teachings. But the potential cost of being known as a follower of Jesus, had kept their faith hidden, a secret to most. Their conflicting views, their former political di

Can You Judge a Book By Its Cover? - Wendy H. Jones

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  I've been thinking a lot about covers recently, mainly because I have several books coming out soon and I've been knee deep in covers and discussions with both cover designers and publishers. I would like a clanging of cymbals here as this is the first sighting of the cover for the new Bertie the Buffalo Book - Bertie Goes to the Worldwide Games . The reason I include this is because it has gone through several iterations. My publishers - Malcolm Down and Sarah Grace have worked hard to bring this cover and to make sure it fitted the book. The tartan is important because Bertie and his friends are representing Scotland and will be wearing kilts. So, why no kilt on the front I hear you ask? One of the original covers did have him in a kilt on the front but it was felt a little too fussy. So, here's a screenshot of part of the back cover.  Our wee escape artist is exploring his Scottish heritage. Before you say, a water buffalo isn't very Scottish, Bertie was born on a

Words for Today

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Language is a living thing. New words appear and old ones fade away. Words that have always been in the dictionary but lain low will suddenly come upon everyone’s tongue, and their meanings bend and morph. Language is changed, amongst other things, by current events. In December last year, on my own blog, Write On , I listed some of the words that have burst into our vocabulary because of Coronavirus. Revisiting them five months on is revealing. Coronavirus Coronavirus is a generic term for a group of viruses, including the common cold.   What we mean is SARS-CoV-2. Some time during summer 2020 we stopped referring to Coronavirus and called it Covid… see below. Covid-19 Or just Covid. (SARS-CoV-2.) Pandemic An  outbreak  of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (according to Merriam-Webster dictionary). Pandemic with a capital P means the spread of Covid infection. Lockdown Stay

Perspective

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I just sat there, staring at the screen, where an unnamed platform told me in cheerful letters that my book was now LIVE. I gasped, bashed on all kinds of keys, refreshed, did what I could. Nothing changed. My novella was officially launched upon an unsuspecting world. My first proper thought? “Thankfully it was only a novella and not a real book.” Of course, by the time I receive a copy of Viking Ferry, it will look like a book. It has letters on the spine, that’s how real it is. It has an ISBN on the back. But in my mind, it’s not a real book, ‘only’ a novella. The same way I’m not a real writer, ‘only’ a mum who writes when not sorting out sibling squabbles or missing socks. Are you like that? ‘Only’ a part-time writer? Only someone who writes some poems? Maybe I’m the only one who brushes off what I do. “I like to sit down and write stories, just for fun, you know.” This time, bringing out a book is even worse. As soon as I published it, I thought, “Why didn’t I make it into a pro