Workshop Blog 11/09/23

Hello everyone.


This week there were twelve of us at the first of this term’s sessions in the YMCA Plas Newydd centre, including three first-timers. Everyone was quite subdued and there wasn’t even a bun-fight over the chocolate biscuits. So polite and orderly.


Richard opened proceedings with the beginning of his children’s novel The Boy Talisman, which he has finished and is trying to edit. Not an enviable task. Richard believes it is suitable for ‘middle-school’ aged readers, but everyone agreed that aiming a children’s book is very difficult, and it may be best to accept your agent/publisher’s advice on this. Anyway, the part we heard was quite lyrical and flowed well, but as this is the beginning there is a whole heap of introduction to character(s), places, and ‘the world’. Very nice but probably need to hear a bit more to decide how it is in terms of editing/line-editing/other stuff. Richard is a self-published children’s author and has had some good success, but this one he hopes to throw into the maelstrom of agents and publishers. Brave man.


Steve then gave us the beginning of another novel he completed last year, The Temptations Of Jonathan Yorke. The section we heard was set in 1973 and was very well written and engaging, as you would expect from Steve. From what we heard this is a good book, though set at 120,000 words it is quite long; unless you happen to be J K Rowling or Hilary Mantel, in which case it’s a short story. But that’s a different matter.


Steve was followed by Kim, who gave us the next section of his novel set in the 1980s, about left-wing political activist groups, predominantly featuring young people. There were some nice discussions in this section, between members asking the person who organised the selling of their magazine to members of the public. Interesting points were put and others fired back, showing how people in positions of seni-power in such groups can ‘assume’ things which must then not be heavily challenged. But Kim’s characters are engaging and you want at least some of them to do well, especially the central one. Please give us more Kim.


The chair then invited the three newcomers to say a little about themselves, where they are in their writing journey now and how CWC can help them achieve their goals.


First up was Ethan, whose main interest is philosophy and who came in trying to find like-minded people. We explained the purpose and workings of CWC and while he enjoyed his evening and said he liked what we did, he was going to try to find a more direct line into philosophy if possible.


Jill struggled bravely with a failing voice to explain that she had previously written quite a lot but has recently ‘restarted writing’ and wants a group of like-minded souls to bounce ideas off and to receive feedback. Jill has recently had a short story accepted for publication and is writing a longer stpry which is currently at about 14,000 words. She told us ‘it won’t leave her alone’. Most of us have been there Jill and we hope you return to read us some of your work.


Marcel writes poetry and has held workshops (including one for CWC which was brilliant), but she advises that she is fascinated by novel writing but has great difficulty getting stuck into such a long work. We asked Marcel to return armed with some of her poems and possibly her idea(s) for a novel or three, so that we may be enthralled and also offer some useful feedback.


Next we heard from Ian, with a return to humour and a ‘Lloyd’ story which he hasn’t picked up for blinking flipping ages. Flish And Plips was very amusing but Ian confused us a little toward the end with his ‘reveal’ and he accepted that this part of a particular little gem needed nailing down some. Good to hear Lloyd again.


Last up was Jeff with a poem – Sacrifice – and the start of a new novel – Alien Search. The poem was lovely and centred around the question ‘what do children/young people owe their parents?’. The simple answers are Everything, Nothing, or as Jeff put it so well Nothing But Unconditional Love. Powerful stuff my friend.


Next week – 18th – we are on ZOOM, then the week after – 25th – back at the YMCA.


In the meantime, here are some things you might be interested in trying your hand at.


Bestest all, P.



Dear writers and poets, I am sure you will agree that Morocco needs all the help it can get at the moment. With this in mind I must publish another charity anthology and invite you to contribute.

Deadline: October 1, 2023

URGENT: Hope for Morocco

We are compiling an anthology celebrating everything Moroccan. Email your poems, memories, short stories, photos and art. We hope to publish this as soon as we can with all donations going to the British Red Cross Morocco Earthquake Appeal.

You will understand that this anthology takes priority over others at this current time. I look forward to reading your submissions. Best wishes, Tim.

Tim Saunders Publications

home of The Paul Cave Prize for Literature

49 Church Close, Locks Heath, Southampton SO31 6LR. England.



Hello/ shwmae

Would you be so kind as to tell your writing group about our inaugural poetry competitions? The Competitions are intended to be annual.

Names: Cambrian Mountains Poetry Competition (English), Cambrian Mountains Poetry Competition (Welsh) and Mid-Wales Poetry Prize (local residents only). 

Deadline: 30 November 2023

Theme: Uplands/ Yr Ucheldir

Winners announced: 31 January 2024

Poems of up to 40 lines

Entry fee: £3.50 for 1 poem, £6 for 2, £8 for 3

Prizes: Best poems (English and Welsh) £150 each; second prizes £20 book token

Open to all aged 16 and over. Poems from residents of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Powys will in addition be considered for the Mid-Wales Poetry Prize.

Poems will be published in the Cambrian Mountains Society Journal 2024 and on our website; there will be a prize-giving event in Ceredigion on Cambrian Mountains Day (28 February) 2024.



Changes! is a new, online creative writing course. Taking place over 7 weeks – including a reading week – prompts are sent fortnightly and can be completed any time. There’s the option of joining a Facebook group, which will include peer as well as tutor feedback; and, if in the UK, there’s also an option to receive encouraging ‘snail mail’ direct from the tutor!

Changes! is inspired by all the many models of change, the psychology and ideas around it, as well as by popular culture and all the many shifts we see in the world around us, from monarchs to monarch butterflies, climate change to self motivation and personal transformation. David Bowie, Dame Edna Everage, select gods and goddesses, and other icons and idols all make their appearances! The prompts draw from all sorts of areas, but the idea is to meld contemporary thinking with creative angles and impetus to inspire you to write!

Your tutor will be Mab Jones, who is the author of 3 poetry pamphlets, 3 collections, various short prose works and plays, and who has written arts journalism for the New York Times, the Guardian, Mslexia, and more. Mab has run hundreds of courses in the community, online, in university, and for all ages, and this course is suitable for anyone, anywhere, with any writing experience, from emerging to established writers, the not-so-new to never-done-this-before!

Join, be inspired, write unexpected things, experiment, explore, have fun, make friends, and enter the darker months inspired by the light of creativity!

Just email for details. The course begins Monday 18 September! 🙂


4.(MsLexia haven’t yet figured out that I’m a boy. My disguise is working.)

Hello Paul,

The life of a woman writer can be an undulating ride can’t it, Paul? Sometimes you’re high from cracking a plot hole, sometimes you tumble because you haven’t written a word in weeks. But, despite the challenges, chances are you have a story that our esteemed judges would be honoured to read.

Consider this your sign to submit to our Fiction Competition this year, and if you need more persuading than the potentially life-changing prizes and path to publication then here are four things that might seal the deal.

We only need to see the first 5,000 words of your novel

If you’re entering our Adult Novel Competition category, our judges only need to receive the first 5,000 words of your novel by 18 September. If you’re longlisted, we’ll call in the complete manuscript – but that’s not until the middle of February 2024. So even if you’re only halfway through the novel right now, you’ll still have another five whole months to finalise your book.

Our judges change every year. We invite new people to judge our competitions each year, to ensure a fresh perspective on the judging of every category. Though their opinions on basic writing skills will be consistent from year to year, their aesthetic tastes will vary – which could mean the difference between a ‘maybe’ and a ‘yes’ when it comes to deciding on a shortlist. So it’s well worth dusting off a previous entry, giving it a quick once-over, and submitting it again.

Even being longlisted will help your career. Mslexia’s competitions are highly respected throughout the publishing industry. Agents and editors know that we commission the best judges, who select the best manuscripts, that go on to be published at the highest level. To be longlisted as part of this process is a sure sign you’re a writer worth taking seriously. Many (many) past entrants have told us they’ve found an agent following a Mslexia longlisting. (It helps your confidence too!)

We’re happy for you to submit your work elsewhere. We understand how annoying it is to have your best writing tied up by competitions and publications that insist on exclusive submissions. So if you want to enter or submit your story elsewhere, that’s fine by us. All we ask is that you withdraw your work from a Mslexia competition category if it is offered publication before we announce our winners.

The deadline for all three of our Fiction Competition categories – novel, short story, and flash fiction – is 18 September. And the prizes really are top-notch, including industry intros, feedback and £5,000 for the novel winner, £3,000 for the short story winner, £500 for the winner of the flash category – and publication of 24 short story and flash finalists in our anthology Best Women’s Short Fiction 2023 in December. Imagine the high you’d get from your work being recognised – so take a chance on a big win and submit today.

These are not cheap but please see below:-

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