Norwich Writers' Circle

Don’t Be A Stranger To Your Voice

It’s official!  On Tuesday 18th April, we officially launched this year’s Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition.  We were joined by Ralph Jackman, our adjudicator, Frank Meeres, author of Strangers: A history of Norwich’s incomers, and Charles Wilde, marketing and development manager for Norfolk Museums Service, who have kindly agreed to assist us with the competition this year.

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First, Frank Meeres gave a fascinating talk on some of the mysterious and intriguing ‘incomers’ into Norwich.

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Then it was up to our adjudicator to offer advice to prospective entrants:

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“I’m afraid, that if you have come today to glean what it is that the adjudicator will be looking for, or what kind of writing I like, then I’m afraid I’m not going to be very helpful.  Because the answer is I like such a wide range of writing, just as I do with music … When something’s good, it’s good.  It stands out.  It captures the reader.  It lingers in the memory afterwards.  So I encourage everyone, whatever their style, to give it their best, no one can ask more, but also to have the courage to submit.”

– Ralph Jackman

Ralph went on to detail his take on the theme, what sorts of images or ideas it conjured for him:

“A brief google of ‘stranger’ led me to the following: A person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar; A person who does not know, or is not known in a particular place or community; A person entirely unaccustomed to a feeling experience of situation.  What a broad palette this allows us … The first thing that crossed my mind, is how we were all strangers once, even to those who love us the most, not just our partners,  but our mums and dads, our brothers and sisters, our best friends.

How do we move from stranger, to dear friend?  Is there something there, to be explored?

Then in the news, Prince Harry spoke of the need to speak about his grief “even to a total stranger” and I thought, what is it about strangers, that we can open up to them? Why is it, that we can share with them our deepest secrets or worst pain?

What other opportunities does meeting a stranger bring? A chance to start again? A chance to pretend, to assume a different persona.

People deliberately move, uproot their entire lives, in order to become a stranger, as a means to start again, to protect themselves from painful memories, or distance themselves from sins of the past.

So being a stranger can, on the one hand, feel lonely, isolated, even frightening.  But on the other hand, it can be desired, wanted, liberating.  Celebrities might seek to be a stranger, to escape the recognition, and they haven’t necessarily sinned … Then I thought how interesting it is, that even in the modern world, with the internet, mobile phones and the like, it’s still possible to be a stranger.  The mask of the internet allows people to hide who they really are.”

– Ralph Jackman

So in short, there is no secret formula that will pique the adjudicator’s interest.  The best way to set yourself above other entrants is to write the story you want to tell and tell it well.  The theme of ‘strangers’ allows for a variety of different interpretations and there are countless ways to explore it.

“I am open to all styles and all genres. 2000 words is not a large number, but it’s enough to change a reader’s life … This does not mean your stories must make the world a better place but perhaps it needs to have entertained, or been thought-provoking – something that makes it an experience … Don’t try to second-guess what I might like. Write a story that you want, in the manner that you want it to be told.  Ultimately, don’t be a stranger to your voice.”

– Ralph Jackman

With this in mind, we wish all entrants the best of luck!

For full details of the competition, including terms and conditions, please visit the competition page.

Remember if your entry wins, not only do you have the chance to win a cash prize, but also see your work in print in a future anthology.

The anthology containing the winning entries of the 2015 and 2016 competitions is available to buy at our meetings or online at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-authors/norwich-writers-circle-anthology-2017-stepping-out/paperback/product-23103350.html

Copies are £7 each plus postage (where applicable).

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The NWC would like to thank Frank Meeres for giving his talk, the Norfolk Museum Services for their generous offer of help – particularly Charles for coming to the gala and for his steadfast support.  Finally, we would like to thank Ralph Jackman for his enthusiasm and thoroughness, as well as for agreeing to be our adjudicator.

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Norwich Writers' Circle

A ‘Sprited’ Evening

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On Tuesday 1st November we had the immense pleasure of welcoming Sheridan Winn, author of the Sprite Sister books, to our meeting.

As part of her talk, Sheridan regaled us with the story of how she came to write The Sprite Sisters.  After a tale fraught with twists and turns, we moved on to discuss our next competition of the season – the Colin Sutton Cup for Humour.

First, it has been decided that the competition will be expanded to include stories for any age group rather than just a children’s book.  The competition is now as follows:

Devise a title, possible sub-title, and all-important blurb for a humorous book.  Then write the first 250 words of the story.

Guidelines

Your entry should consist of:

  • A title and possible sub-title.
  • A blurb no more than 150 words long.
  • No more than the first 250 words of your story.

 Advice from Sheridan:

Title and Sub-title

  • Titles shouldn’t be too much of a mouthful – roughly 2-3 words long is preferable.
  • Subtitles should qualify the title and be similarly short.

 What makes a good blurb?

  • It should make anyone picking it up think they are going to have fun reading your story.
  • Your character(s) should feature in it.
  • Readers should be able to get a sense of your character’s world.
  • It should also address what your protagonist wants and what is stopping them from getting it.

Sheridan also helpfully gave some examples of book blurbs that she really liked to help illustrate exactly what she is looking for in a winning entry:

  • Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff
  • Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

 The first 250 words

  • It is best to start with the inciting incident as this grabs the reader.  If you cannot intrigue the reader on the first page, your book will be put down.
  • Keep to the point and cut out long descriptions.
  • Create something that is adventurous but also fun.

Finally, let’s not forget that this is the Colin Sutton Cup for Humour.  What kind of humour is Sheridan looking for?  In short, she would prefer quirky, witty humour over ‘belly laughs’.

The deadline for the competition is 6th December 2016.

All entries must be submitted on one side of A4, double spaced.  Work to be unpublished and not entered into previous Circle competitions.

To submit your entry, please email them to: norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk or bring them along to a meeting.

Entry fee is £3 for non-members but free for all NWC members.  Remember, all entries will receive an expert critique from our adjudicator.

The NWC would like to thank Sheridan for her wonderful and informative talk, and her excellent advice.

We would also like to thank everyone who attended the meeting.  It was wonderful to see you all!

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 15th November, where we will be joined by Peter Stibbons, owner of Poppyland Publishing.  Peter will  be talking about the interaction of new media in the digital age with the traditional printed word.

We hope to see you there!

Norwich Writers' Circle

Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition Gala

WordPress Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition Logo 2016The wait is over …

On Tuesday 18th October, we will be announcing the winners of the Olga Sinclair Short Story Competition at Anteros Arts Foundation.

To celebrate, a light buffet will be served, and a raffle with some fantastic prizes to be won will be held.

The doors open at 7pm with the main event kicking off at 7:30PM.  You are welcome to bring a guest with you.  The more the merrier!

A door fee of £5 for visitors, £3 for members applies.

We hope to see you there!

Norwich Writers' Circle

19th April 2016

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Everyone is welcome to joins us on Tuesday 19th April when we will be launching our second Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition. This time our popular competition has the theme of shoes.

The launch will feature a whole handful of speakers, including Rachel Hore, who is judging this year’s entries.

Other speakers on the night will be local historians Michael & Frances Holmes, Ashley Stokes from Unthank Books, plus Simon Goodman from Van Dal Shoes, who are sponsoring the competition.

The evening starts at 7.30pm (doors open from 7.00pm) at Anteros Arts Foundation. Refreshments will also be provided.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Norwich Writers' Circle

Nick Williams Reveals Research Techniques

WordPress Nick Williams March 2016

On Tuesday 15th March, Norwich historian and writer Nick Williams gave a presentation to Norwich Writers Circle, detailing his research techniques whilst preparing a number of publications. These included a series of heritage walks, The Blue Plaques of Norwich, a Guide to Rosary Cemetery and Trades and Industries of Norwich. A former Volunteer Co-ordinator for the recently disbanded Norwich Heritage Economic And Regeneration Trust (HEART), Nick still retains a strong interest in local history and is currently preparing a further book.

In an entertaining and informative talk, Nick stressed the benefits of using local archives, including Norfolk Record Office, Norfolk Heritage Centre and the Archant archives. Nick spoke of the importance of having a plan, close editing and the value of a comprehensive index. Members listened attentively, listening for tips to improve their chances of success in the annual non-fiction competition, the Past Search Trophy, sponsored by Gill Blanchard.

Nick will adjudicate the competition at our meeting on 17th May. Entries must be a narrative of no more than 1,000 words, detailing and justifying the writers’ choice of a person, place or event that deserves a Blue Plaque in Norwich, because of the part played in the history of the city. Nick will be looking for evidence of research, conclusions clearly based on research and whether such a plaque would grab the attention of a passer-by. Sources should be listed at the foot of the document (in addition to the maximum word count). Deadline for entries is 19th April. For full details of how to enter our competitions please click the Competition tab. Members can enter for free; non-members are welcome for a  fee. One entry only per person.

Norwich Writers' Circle

Festivities

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On Saturday 12th December Norwich Writers’ Circle held its annual Christmas celebration.

The well-attended social was held at Anteros Arts Foundation, on Fye Bridge Street, which will be our new meeting venue from January 2016. The party saw members enjoy a wide selection of Christmas food and drink. The fun evening was further enhanced by a ‘Secret Santa’ raffle, along with a team quiz. The festive-themed quiz was then won, appropriately enough, by ‘Santa’s Little Helpers’.

At NWC’s first meeting in Anteros, on Tuesday January 19th 2016, we will be welcoming Ejike Ndaji. The Performance Poet will be demonstrating and discussing his craft, as well as setting our latest Circle Competition. We hope to see you there.

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GALA PRIZE GIVING at ANTEROS

Important Note: 20th October 2015 sees a change of venue to our usual home. We will be welcoming members and visitors in the historical Fishergate Room at Anteros Art Foundation, 11 – 15 Fye Bridge Street, Norwich.  7:30 start.

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Everything is gearing up for the big night of our Olga Sinclair Open Short Fiction Competition. Adjudicator Ashley Stokes, local writer, tutor and cheif editor of Unthank Books will lead the prize giving. All are welcome. The competition prize giving will be followed by readings, raffle prizes and refreshments.

To help us host the event we ask members and visitors to bring

the customary door fee: £3 (Members), £5 (Visitors)

Norwich Writers' Circle

Mustard Update

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The postal deadline for entering our inaugural Short Fiction Competition has now passed. Do not worry, we will still be accepting entries online up to and including 31st July.

Run in conjunction with Unthank Books, the competition has a first prize of £500.00. All entries must be a maximum of 2,000 words long, and reference ‘mustard‘ somewhere within the text.

The prize-winning stories, adjudicated by Ashley Stokes, will also be considered by Unthank Books’ Editoral Board for publication.

To discover more about this exciting writing opportunity please go here.

Norwich Writers' Circle

Mustard Deadline

WordPress Mustard Colonel

The deadline for our first Open Short Fiction Competition is fast approaching.

To enter Norwich Writers’ Circle’s inaugural Short Fiction Competition simply send us a story that is a maximum of 2,000 words – which references ‘mustard‘ somewhere within the text – by 17th July.

Entries via e-mail are being accepted up to and including 31st July.

The competition has a First Prize of £500.00 and is being adjudicated by Ashley Stokes of Unthank Books. The prize-winning stories will also be considered for publication by Unthank Books’ Editorial Board.

Details of this impressive writing opportunity can be found by going here.

Norwich Writers' Circle

Must Be Mustard

WordPress Mustard Powder

There is still plenty of time to enter Norwich Writers’ Circle’s inaugural Short Fiction Competition.

Run in conjunction with Unthank Books, the competition has a first prize of £500.00. All entries must be a maximum of 2,000 words long, and reference ‘mustard‘ somewhere within the text.

The prize-winning stories, adjudicated by Ashley Stokes, will also be considered by Unthank Books’ Editoral Board for publication.

The closing date is 17th July for all Postal entries. We will also accepting entries via e-mail up to 31st July.

To discover more about this exciting writing opportunity please go here. We look forward to receiving your competition entry soon.