The Art Of Words – Creative Writing Workshop – Friday 14th November

At Orchard Learning Studios, Gunnislake, Cornwall, from 10am – 1pm

A short course studying the beauty of words in a series of creative writing exercises. You will be observing names, and what they mean to you; how different fonts alter the mood of the reader and searching for your own beautiful words. You will look at the art of putting words together, using figures of speech, sayings, mottoes and texts that paint a shape on the page. Finally, the workshop investigates the writers who have turned words into art

To book please find details at:


Courses at Orchard Learning Studios, Gunnislake, Cornwall – 2014/15

Delighted to be providing courses at Orchard Learning Studios again this year (2014/15):

The Art of Words            10am-1pm       Friday 14th November

Tuning into Writing          10am-1pm       Friday 28th February

Write the Memories        10am-4pm      Thursday and Friday, 9th and 10th April

Please see the Orchard website for details on how to book.

Beanies for Noses

The tip of my nose feels like an iceberg; someone should design beanies for noses. I start to put on layers, to prepare. On top of my camisole vest and long-sleeved t-shirt I wrestle my cuffs into a chunky, zip-up hoody. I put my woolly hat and fingerless gloves on the shelf, just in case I’m stuck in this place for hours. My feet are cocooned in a pair of trainer socks, followed by thick, walking socks, and my jeans are carefully rolled down over cosy leg-warmers. I wedge my socked feet into cream boot-slippers and stretch another pair of grey leg warmers over the top, pulling them over my knees. My legs are half polar bear, half elephant. My coffee is steaming. I take a sip, and my fingers tingle as I wrap them around the tall, china mug.  The final layer is my cashmere blanket, which I lay across my lap and wrap around my thighs. Now, I’m ready to write the words for the day.

Under Milk Wood

Welsh roots draw me in; it can be anything, from hearing about the Dylan Thomas centenary to Caerphilly Christmas market. There’s that strange, mystical comfort when driving over the Severn Bridge, and the lilt of the Welsh voice that feels like home-from-home. Under Milk Wood is a play my mind unearths from time to time; I played Mrs Dai Bread Two in a college adaptation, and because my grandmother was Welsh, I made the Welsh cakes for the interval on a griddle that came from Llwynypia, my grandmother’s village in the Rhondda valley. So now, I’m drawn to Blake’s exhibition at the National Museum in Cardiff. It’s a ‘must see’ when it comes to Welsh culture. Read this, and you’ll see:

The Novel Blog 5

Authors have different reasons for writing; although enjoying the task is something all writers must share. When it comes to what we write about and how we present it, that’s where writers differ. Some authors write for an audience and others don’t care if the audience enjoy the work or not; they write purely for themselves. After that, comes how we present the work to our readers. Do we write the whole novel in one large chunk, split it into long chapters or parts, have it interspersed with fragments of flashback moments or a character’s thoughts or diary pages, or do we write individual scenes in small chapters. I’m reading a novel at the moment where the author uses the last method – small chapters in scenes. I’m enjoying it immensely, and that is part of the reason. Many readers like to feel organised about the way that they read; they like to put the book down at the end of a scene or a point that brings something to a close. However, if many readers like stories presented to them in this way, it is the novelists job to pose unanswered questions or cliffhangers at the ends of scenes or chapters to keep them reading.

Kiss me First

Finished a novel by Lottie Moggach today – Kiss me First. I enjoyed the exciting fast track ending, tying up the many loose ends. The story covered modern day ways of communicating, mainly by facebook and email. It questioned our online identities and how different they can be in comparison to the people we really are. It also covered issues on euthanasia. This aspect was even more interesting to read about in the novel after meeting the author at the Ways with Words lit fest in the summer. Well done, Lottie. A great read.

Writers are Readers

Colin Robinson’s article, Writers should take a year off, and give us all a break in the Guardian, on Fri 16th Aug, has some truth, at first glance. There are a great many more books being published in recent years, and the quality of the writing varies. Robinson, however, makes two unfounded assumptions: he proposes that writers “have made up their minds and seek to deliver the resulting verdict to what they imagine is a waiting world,” and he suggests, “if you’re writing then you can’t be reading.”
The first statement implies that writers don’t care about their audience, and whilst it is true that some authors write to satisfy a need within themselves, all writers care about their readership and wish to produce books which are not only well-written but will provide enjoyment for as many readers as possible.
Secondly, all writers are readers. Reading allows writers to learn, and widen their experience and knowledge, as well as allowing good writing from other authors to influence their own work. How else would reviews from other writers get onto book jackets or paperback covers if the writers hadn’t read them? It strikes me that it’s writers that do most of the reading, and for that reason alone it is impossible to “divide the world into two groups”, writers and readers.

Instructions for a Heatwave

I’ve just finished reading ‘Instructions for a Heatwave’ by Maggie O’Farrell. It’s the third novel I’ve read by this author, and the best yet. She has a great insight into family life; she notices the small things that surround us and make our lives interesting, and she shows how the tension in families draw us apart for one moment in time and pool us together in another. Her conflicts are resolved neatly and the ending is neat and not overwritten. This is brilliant storytelling bringing an everyday Irish family alive.