© Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Created with Xara Designer Pro X
We support this event each year by linking up with Hospital Radio Reading and Progress Theatre, Reading. We supply stories. Actors from Progress Theatre read them at a recording session and the Hospital Radio broadcasts the recordings to the patients during the week of the event. We don’t yet know whether the stories will be broadcast at lunchtime or in the evening, or both.

12 Oct 2019: National Short Story Week (11-17 November)

If you would like to submit stories for this event, send them to Dick at sawdonsmith@hotmail.com in time for the recordings. Stories should generally be between 1200 and 1500 words but shorter ones might be accepted if we can double up. Remember that stories must be suitable for people in hospital. Dick will pass the stories to the Chairman of Hospital Radio Reading who has the final choice on which will be recorded. The recordings will be made on Monday 4th November, so please let Dick have stories well in advance of that date so that choices can be made and decide which will suit each reader, who we hope, as usual, will be a present or past member of the Progress Theatre.
16 Oct 2019: Neil’s Latest Book is Published Congratulations to Neil as his latest book is published. You don’t have to be an Archers fan to enjoy this book just a fan of all manner of puzzles. To quote from the back cover:
“As one of Britain's best-loved and longest running radio serials, The Archers has a special place in our lives and affections. But when you're not tuning in for the latest goings-on in Borsetshire, how about a puzzle or two to pass the time? From quizzes and riddles to crosswords and sudoku, whether you're an expert on all things Ambridge or merely a casual listener, there's plenty in these pages to tickle your fancy and tease your brain.”

5 Nov 2019: Halloween/Bonfire Night Comp Results

2nd Sarah

3rd Colin

Castro’s Bangers

A jolly tale of youthful enterprise - ask Les C about the ‘in’ jokes.

All That Glitters

An imaginative story with a charming twist.

Buzz Bomb

A melancholic story from World War II.

1st Les W

A wide ranging collection of short stories, covering both Halloween and Bonfire night themes, kept us entertained for a couple of weeks. The votes produced the following results.

12 Nov 2019: Relay Novel - The Starting Gun Has Fired

Some months ago, it was decided to attempt a novel/novella in which one of us would write a chapter then hand the story over to another who would continue the story (what I call a ‘relay novel’). As each chapter is written it will be read at a meeting and the next author decided upon. Brian has got us off to a great start with his first chapter called The Lady on the Beach. The story is set in a small seaside village called Heedlesham (which which we can use as a working title for the story). Every year, in the summer months, the only topic of conversation in the local pub is the caravan park on the edge of the village and its hated population of holiday-makers. Just one person did not share this hatred; soon to be joined by another - or is he? The baton has now been passed to Nick, who will write the next chapter. You can keep up to date with the progress of the story by going to the Library. On the Home page there is a panel with three links to files that contain the story so far, a list of the characters and a list of the chapters and their authors.

24 Nov 2019: Looking for an Agent?

(This item is from Walter)

Recently, when submitting my story to a publisher, I was given a link where I could find out what has happened to my submission. The image on the right shows what the link displays. At the bottom it refers to QueryTracker - which I followed up. It’s a web site which allows you to search for publishers and agents. I should explain that “Query” seems to be the American word for “submission”, and yes, this is a US web site and most of the information in it is US-based. However, I have found that it contains enough UK information in it possibly to be a useful source of literary agents. It’s free to use - you must register first, then you can search for UK agents (or American ones if you wish), but if you pay the £25 per year fee you can do more sophisticated searches. Could be worth it if you’re so busy that you can’t afford the time to do the searches manually. I have registered, used it to find an agent and emailed my story to her. I’m now waiting for the response which should give me a link to the Tracker page for it. I will let you know what happened to my submission (query?), and how it compares with traditional methods, at one of our meetings. The QueryTracker link is at the bottom of the Links page, but just this once, I’ll put it here. Good agent hunting!
14 Jan 2020: Arthur Redway Memorial Comp Strong Entry We received sixteen entries for this year’s competition which was won last year by David Baldock. You now have until 19th Jan 2020 to read them and send in your placings to Stuart for your favourite three. All members can vote, not just the entrants. The results will be announced and the top three will be read at the meeting on 21 Jan.
David with the Trophy
21 Jan 2020: Arthur Redway Memorial Comp Results Congratulations to Colin Ferguson and Les Williams who tied for first place in this year’s event. Colin’s entry is a melancholy tale of a murderer released from prison to find his mother very ill. Be prepared for a shock ending. Les tells of a post-climate-change world in his tongue-in- cheek style. David Baldock’s entry, a sad tale of misplaced love, came a close third. Colin said that receiving the trophy meant even more to him, given that the competition was so fierce. The voting was so close that only three points separated first from fifth!
31 Jan 2020: Presentations Evening Voted a Success Ian and David can feel proud of the dinner they organised at the Calcot Hotel, To keep the creative thinking juices, as well as the gastric juices flowing during the evening, there were quizzes, designed to test our ability to ‘think outside the box’; which box, I have yet to discover. The London Underground Quiz was won by Nick. Sarah’s partner, Trish, won the fiendish English Words Quiz and the limerick competition was won by Geoff. A special award, Comedian of the Year, was won by Les Cooper who received the prize of a Bunty Annual! Shhh. There is talk that the evening was so successful, that it may be repeated next year!
The photos below were contributed by Sally, Chloe and Walter. Click on any photo in this group, then use the right and left arrows shown at the bottom of the enlarged image to display the next photo, or use the play button to cycle through them automatically.
23 Feb 2020: Query Tracker Update (from Walter) Last November I wrote about an American web site that offered a listing of agents and publishers and an online way of keeping track of your submissions (called “queries” in the USA, apparently). I have since used Query Tracker a few times to find British agents and publishers and submit my story to them. So far, only the one that originally alerted me to this facility seems to use it to manage the submission process. The rest have used traditional methods (I never thought I wouId use “traditional” to describe email) to keep me informed on the progress of my submission. While I have not found Query Tracker to be an enhancement to the submissions process, I think it is a useful listing of potential agents and publishers for your work.

24 Mar 2020: The Chris Mundy Memorial Poetry Competition

Congratulations to Walter, this year's winner from a high quality field. Thirteen entries were submitted then anonymised and voted on by members. Walter's uplifting entry was just what was needed at these difficult times, and that was clearly reflected in the voting. Getting out of our writing comfort zone is an excellent way of stretching us so the non-poets among us will hopefully have enjoyed the experience. Walter will be presented with the winner's shield, suitably engraved, when we resume normal service.

The full results are as follows;

1st Walter Ode to a Blackbird 2nd Janis A Home for the Hybrid 3rd Les W Tears and Years All the entries can be read on the Library’s 2020 page.

7 Apr 2020: Spring is Here - It’s Official!

Forget pink supermoons - that’s fake news, anyway! After 4,176 hours (to save you doing the maths, that’s about 25 weeks!) of continuous isolation, oops, I mean hibernation, Speedy has decided that spring has arrived and has graced Mary and Stuart with his active presence.
Left: Speedy takes his first steps in 2020 sunshine (well, daylight).

11 Apr 2020: My NAWG News

First may I thank those who passed comment on my story ‘ Sweet Wine or Sour Grapes’. I have sent it to Woman’s Weekly under my usual non de plume and now just wait. Les always starts the meeting with ‘any news’ so I thought I would give my experience after I entered last year’s NAWG open competition - that’s the one you pay for and pay an extra fee if you want to see the judges critique. The deadline was November but I had only just realised that I hadn’t heard from them. I didn’t expect to win but I was interested to see the judge’s critique that I had paid for. Unfortunately, when I enquired I discovered my critique had been lost. However, they found it and forwarded it to me. I won’t give the whole critique but the judge said, ‘This story had a lot going for it with a sharp sense of place, good pace and some economical writing. But it seemed to have too many things going on to make it a successful short story. It was crying out to be a novel.’ Some time ago I entered it in another competition and the judges comments were. ‘This well written story is to big to be confined to a 2000-word format. The readers curiosity is aroused by the brief references to the minor characters never mind the lightly and telling major ones and the whole MS is full of vitality. It would make an excellent novel.’ What a pity I am not a novel writer.
Dick Sawdon Smith

22 April 2020: Barbara (by Les Williams)

I am late to my emails today so have only just picked up on the terribly sad news about Barbara. For me Barbara was a very special person and someone I know we will all greatly miss. For Susie and all of Barbara's family the current circumstances have made a very sad and difficult time so much worse. I know our thoughts will be with them all. Barbara, as well as being an excellent writer, was inspirational. On countless occasions she was extremely helpful with her insights and guidance, often given to me as asides with a wry wit. There can be no doubt that it was her hard work and dedication that created, nurtured and developed the Circle to become the highly appreciated and successful body it now is. For that we all owe her a great debt. See her story.

27 Apr 2020: The Barbara Olive Smith Memorial Trophy

As you will know our calendar of events had The Iain Pattison Short Story Competition down for announcement last week. In view of the recent sad news there has been some discussion as to whether it would be appropriate to hold the competition at this time. It was decided that with Barbara's indomitable spirit she would have wanted, indeed insisted on the competition being held. The competition has always been the highlight of our writing calendar and we had previously agreed that we would rename the competition in her honour, although we had hoped then that she would still be with us. We had also agreed that there would be an annual trophy award to the winner. Therefore from now on the competition will be for The Barbara Olive Smith Memorial Trophy. This year's competition is now open, with details on the Competitions page. Iain Pattison has again kindly agreed to judge our entries and provide a critique of each.
More tributes to Barbara

11 May 2020: Oxford Road is Published

The book that Derek has regailed us with (or should that be ‘with which Derek has regailed us’) at past meetings, of the real variety, has now reached the bookshelves, well the Amazon web site, at least. Currently, the ebook can be ontained at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=oxford+road+derek+walsh&crid=TWPQL50 U04ZL&sprefix=Oxford+Road+Derek%2Caps%2C160&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_ 17 Derek says it should should be available in paperback soon. A tip he would like to pass on is that he was advised by a friend in publishing to press ahead and upload the book rather than wait for a publishing deal. She read his manuscript and wrote a review which she posted on one of the sites. The hope is, that the more reviews he gets, the better the chance of attracting publishers. As he says, “On the other hand, if it sells well anyway, then I won't need one!”

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26 May 2020: Comedy Theatre and Computer Training!

Colin has passed on the information below which could be an exciting opportunity for the ‘silver surfers’ among us.

Joffe Books have brought out Kindle editions of my first two Regency Tales, with more atmospheric

covers and dynamic blurbs.

26 May 2020: Beth Elliott Latest

.

There’s more about Beth’s books,

and soon to be published works, at

www.regencytales.co.uk
Third prize goes to Les Williams for his tale ‘Deadweight’. Iain said “This smashing tale is written with confidence and skill”.
The winner this year is Neil Somerville with his story ‘Your Call’. Iain said “This is one of those stories that makes me think: Wow - I wish I’d written that.”
The second place went to Rob Stallard with his story ‘Selling J.K. at Hay’. Iain said “I loved this story. It’s gentle but contains a very dry, wicked sense of humour”.

23 Jun 2020: Barbara Olive Smith Memorial Competition Results

The event was judged by Iain Pattison. There were 12 short stories submitted with the theme ‘The Wisdom of Age’. Iain said that he really enjoys reading our stories as they are always highly inventive and often very amusing. Stories from TVWC are always of a very high standard.

25 Jun 2020: Magazine Success for Dick

Congratulations to Dick in getting his short story 'Sweet Wine or Sour Grapes' published in Woman’s Weekly - in the current fiction special of that magazine. Dick originally read this story to us several weeks before we went into lockdown. He re-wrote the piece following our comments and presented it to us in week 2 of our virtual meetings in March. If you are a regular reader of the magazine, you may have a little difficulty in finding Dick’s story as ‘they’ changed the title to 'Growing Close', and of course, it's under Dick’s nom-de-plume, Charlotte Sawdon.

7 Jul 2020: TVWC s into the Future

by Walter After a few minor glitches, we managed to hold a virtual meeting via Zoom. I set up the meeting and was joined by Les W, Les C, Vicky, Nick, Neil, Sally and Helen C. Stuart tried but was unable to get any sound on his computer. Nick amused us with his animated alien climbing around his room. Les W read his short story ‘That Entrepreneurial Spirit’. There was some agreement with Les C’s comment that it didn’t seem to have the same impact as it would have had in a real meeting room. There was some discussion around the subject of ‘garden meetings’ and regular Zoom meetings but no agreements were reached. I explained that this meeting was set up to try out the technology so that we would be able to have an AGM later in the month. Normally meetings are free if they last less than 40 minutes but, for whatever reason, half way through the meeting, Zoom put up a message on our screens saying that the time limit was lifted, as a gift to us. At the end of the meeting I was messaged by Zoom to say that if another meeting was booked immediately, there would again be no time limit. Trying to get us in the habit is my guess. The AGM is booked and will be online. Details will be emailed nearer the time.

28 Jul 2020: Zoom AGM a Success

by Les Williams At the AGM we agreed the following. 1. There will be Summer Homework, as usual. This year the rule is to use an opening sentence from one book, and the final sentence from another. The maximum word count is 1500. You can use the following two sentences to open and close, or if preferred you can choose your own, (noting at the end which two books the sentences are from, and the authors). Opening sentence; They stood in the doorway and stomped the rain from their boots and swung their hats and wiped the water from their faces. (From Cities of the Plain, by Cormac McCarthy). Closing sentence; He went back and forth, changing his mind daily. (From Theodore Boon, by John Grisham). Your stories can be emailed to Walter for posting on Corona-f. webmaster@thamesvalleywriterscircle.org.
2. It was agreed that we will take an August break as usual. This means that there will be no activity on Corona-f (except for submitting the Summer Homework) until Tuesday 2nd September, (our "virtual" return date). 3. Garden meetings may continue in August but they will be dependant on hosts and take-up. Invites will come from the host via Stuart, and you must reply direct to the host if you wish to attend. 4. September meetings. We will try to use zoom, for two meetings a month, with readings and feedback. Walter is investigating how we can read the stories on zoom as they are being read. This would make following each story, and being able to comment on them, easier. I hope you enjoy the rest of our summer, despite these bizarre times, and I look forward to our "return" in September. Kind regards Les

3 Aug 2020: Marta’s Poem in Snakeskin

For those that don’t know it, Snakeskin is a poetry ‘webzine’ that invites contributions for its monthly issues. This month it has accepted a poem from Martha - “Monday Morning”. You can read and enjoy it at Snakeskin. On the Snakeskin site, click on the lady with the big hair to see a list of this month’s contributions.

1 Sep 2020: New Term Meetings

Twelve people ‘attended’ the first meeting of the new term and read their summer homework stories which were well received. An added bonus was that we were able to display the stories on participant’s screens while they were being read. It has been suggested that we might be able to give better feedback to those reading at Zoom meetings if their work is available to be read before the meeting. We would like to give the idea a try, so send in your work for the next Zoom meeting (15 Sep) as early as you can. Walter will put it on the web site (Corona-file page) ASAP for all to read and consider before the meeting. The work will still be read at the meeting in the usual way for the benefit of those who had been unable to read them beforehand. When sending work to Walter for meetings, please indicate which meeting you intend it to be read at, as there may be some overlap with stories arriving in Walter’s Inbox for different meetings. Next week’s meeting (8 Sep) will be the ‘old’ style Corona-file meeting (without Zoom). Make sure your material is sent to Walter to put on the Corona-File page in good time for the meeting. From then on the weekly meetings will alternate Zoom/non-Zoom.
Joyce & Gerry

15 Sep 2020: Thirteen’s a Winning Number

During this week’s meeting on Zoom, thirteen people attended for some or all of the duration of the meeting. Overcoming time, distance and technology, the meeting included: Sarah - she read us her piece on her smartphone, from the passenger seat of a car, then had to leave us when her battery ran down. Rebecca - her internet was unreliable, so she joined us via a dial-up phone connection which meant she had no video, but she could still join in! Richard - bleary eyed but determined, he read us his story from his home in Melbourne, and regaled us with tales of Australia in lockdown. It was very like one of our face-to-face meeting with readings, discussion of the readings, then wandering off the point and Les getting us back in order. Everyone seems to be getting comfortable with the technology so anyone who hasn’t taken the plunge yet, have a go, it really isn’t difficult!
Neil with the new trophy which he won in the inaugural competition earlier this year with his Who Wants to be a Millionaire story, Your Call. The competition, in memory of our late founder, was judged by Iain Pattison. Selecting and engraving the trophy has been delayed by Covid-19 but now the trophy and winner have been united.

17 Sep 2020: The Barbara Olive Smith Trophy Has Arrived

26 May 2020: Comedy Theatre

and Computer Training!

Colin has passed on the information below which could be an exciting opportunity for the ‘silver surfers’ among us.
Some months ago, it was decided to attempt a novel/novella in which one of us would write a chapter then hand the story over to another who would continue the story (what I call a ‘relay novel’). As each chapter is written it will be read at a meeting and the next author decided upon. Brian has got us off to a great start with his first chapter called The Lady on the Beach. The story is set in a small seaside village called Heedlesham (which which we can use as a working title for the story). Every year, in the summer months, the only topic of conversation in the local pub is the caravan park on the edge of the village and its hated population of holiday-makers. Just one person did not share this hatred; soon to be joined by another - or is he? The baton has now been passed to Nick who will write the next chapter. You can keep up to date with the progress of the story by going to the Library. On the Home page there is a panel with three links to files that contain the story so far, a list of the characters and a list of the chapters and their authors.
We support this event each year by linking up with Hospital Radio Reading and Progress Theatre, Reading. We supply stories. Actors from Progress Theatre read them at a recording session and the Hospital Radio broadcasts the recordings to the patients during the week of the event. We don’t yet know whether the stories will be broadcast at lunchtime or in the evening, or both.
© Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Created with Xara Designer Pro X
Send in your news items to webmaster@thamesvalleywriterscircle.org

12 Oct 2019: National Short Story Week

(11-17 November)

If you would like to submit stories for this event, send them to Dick at sawdonsmith@hotmail.com in time for the recordings. Stories should generally be between 1200 and 1500 words but shorter ones might be accepted if we can double up. rememberi that they must be suitable for people in hospital. Dick will pass the stories to the Chairman of Hospital Radio Reading who has the final choice on which will be recorded. The recordings will be made on Monday 4th November, so please let Dick have stories well in advance of that date so that choices can be made and decide which will suit each reader, who we hope as usual will be a present or past member of the Progress Theatre.
16 Oct 2019: Neil’s Latest Book is Published
Congratulations to Neil as his latest book is published. You don’t have to be an Archers fan to enjoy this book just a fan of all manner of puzzles. To quote from the back cover:
“As one of Britain's best-loved and longest running radio serials, The Archers has a special place in our lives and affections. But when you're not tuning in for the latest goings-on in Borsetshire, how about a puzzle or two to pass the time? From quizzes and riddles to crosswords and sudoku, whether you're an expert on all things Ambridge or merely a casual listener, there's plenty in these pages to tickle your fancy and tease your brain.”

5 Nov 2019: Halloween/Bonfire Night

Comp Results

1st

2nd

3rd

Castro’s Bangers

A jolly tale of youthful enterprise - ask Les C about the ‘in’ jokes.

All That Glitters…

An imaginative story with a charming twist.

Buzz Bomb

A melancholic story from World War II.
Les W
Sarah
Colin
A wide ranging collection of short stories, covering both Halloween and Bonfire night themes, kept us entertained for a couple of weeks. The votes produced the following results.

12 Nov 2019: Relay Novel - The Starting

Gun Has Fired

24 Nov 2019: Looking for an Agent?

(This item is from Walter)

Recently, when submitting my story to a publisher, I was given a link where I could find out what has happened to my submission. The image below shows what the link displays. At the bottom it refers to QueryTracker - which I followed up. It’s a web site which allows you to search for publishers and agents. I should explain that “Query” seems to be the American word for “submission”, and yes, this is a US web site and most of the information in it is US-based. However, I have found that it contains enough UK information in it possibly to be a useful source of literary agents. It’s free to use - you must register first, then you can search for UK agents (or American ones if you wish), but if you pay the £25 per year fee you can do more sophisticated searches. Could be worth it if you’re so busy that you can’t afford the time to do the searches manually. I have registered, used it to find an agent and emailed my story to her. I’m now waiting for the response which should give me a link to the Tracker page for it. I will let you know what happened to my submission (query?), and how it compares with traditional methods, at one of our meetings. The QueryTracker link is at the bottom of the Links page, but just this once, I’ll put it here. Good agent hunting!
14 Jan 2020: Arthur Redway Memorial Comp Strong Entry We received sixteen entries for this year’s competition which was won last year by David Baldock. You now have until 19th Jan 2020 to read them and send in your placings to Stuart for your favourite three. All members can vote, not just the entrants. The results will be announced and the top three will be read at the meeting on 21 Jan.
David with the Trophy
21 Jan 2020: Arthur Redway Memorial Comp Results Congratulations to Colin Ferguson and Les Williams who tied for first place in this year’s event. Colin’s entry is a melancholy tale of a murderer released from prison to find his mother very ill. Be prepared for a shock ending. Les tells of a post- climate-change world in his tongue-in-cheek style. David Baldock’s entry, a sad tale of misplaced love, came a close third’ Colin said that receiving the trophy meant even more to him, given that the competition was so fierce. The voting was so close that only three points separated first from fifth!
31 Jan 2020: Presentations Evening Voted a Success Ian and David can feel proud of the dinner they organised at the Calcot Hotel, To keep the creative thinking juices, as well as the gastric juices flowing during the evening, there were quizzes, designed to test our ability to ‘think outside the box’; which box, I have yet to discover. The London Underground Quiz was won by Nick. Sarah’s partner, Trish, won the fiendish English Words Quiz and the limerick competition was won by Geoff. A special award, Comedian of the Year, was won by Les Cooper who received the prize of a Bunty Annual! Shhh. There is talk that the evening was so successful, that it may be repeated next year!
The photos below were contributed by Sally, Chloe and Walter. Click on any photo in this group, then use the right and left arrows shown at the bottom of the enlarged image to display the next photo, or use the play button to cycle through them automatically.
23 Feb 2020: Query Tracker Update (from Walter) Last November I wrote about an American web site that offered a listing of agents and publishers and an online way of keeping track of your submissions (called “queries” in the USA, apparently). I have since used Query Tracker a few times to find British agents and publishers and submit my story to them. So far, only the one that originally alerted me to this facility seems to use it to manage the submission process. The rest have used traditional methods (I never thought I wouId use “traditional” to describe email) to keep me informed on the progress of my submission. While I have not found Query Tracker to be an enhancement to the submissions process, I think it is a useful listing of potential agents and publishers for your work.

24 Mar 2020: The Chris Mundy Memorial

Poetry Competition

Congratulations to Walter, this year's winner from a high quality field. Thirteen entries were submitted then anonymised and voted on by members. Walter's uplifting entry was just what was needed at these difficult times, and that was clearly reflected in the voting. Getting out of our writing comfort zone is an excellent way of stretching us so the non-poets among us will hopefully have enjoyed the experience. Walter will be presented with the winner's shield, suitably engraved, when we resume normal service.

The full results are as follows;

1st Walter Ode to a Blackbird 2nd Janis A Home for the Hybrid 3rd Les W Tears and Years All the entries can be read on the Library’s 2020 page.

11 Apr 2020: My NAWG News

First may I thank those who passed comment on my story ‘ Sweet Wine or Sour Grapes’. I have sent it to Woman’s Weekly under my usual non de plume and now just wait. Les always starts the meeting with ‘any news’ so I thought I would give my experience after I entered last year’s NAWG open competition - that’s the one you pay for and pay an extra fee if you want to see the judges critique. The deadline was November but I had only just realised that I hadn’t heard from them. I didn’t expect to win but I was interested to see the judge’s critique that I had paid for. Unfortunately, when I enquired I discovered my critique had been lost. However, they found it and forwarded it to me. I won’t give the whole critique but the judge said, ‘This story had a lot going for it with a sharp sense of place, good pace and some economical writing. But it seemed to have too many things going on to make it a successful short story. It was crying out to be a novel.’ Some time ago I entered it in another competition and the judges comments were. ‘This well written story is to big to be confined to a 2000-word format. The readers curiosity is aroused by the brief references to the minor characters never mind the lightly and telling major ones and the whole MS is full of vitality. It would make an excellent novel.’ What a pity I am not a novel writer.
Dick Sawdon Smith

22 April 2020: Barbara (by Les Williams)

I am late to my emails today so have only just picked up on the terribly sad news about Barbara. For me Barbara was a very special person and someone I know we will all greatly miss. For Susie and all of Barbara's family the current circumstances have made a very sad and difficult time so much worse. I know our thoughts will be with them all. Barbara, as well as being an excellent writer, was inspirational. On countless occasions she was extremely helpful with her insights and guidance, often given to me as asides with a wry wit. There can be no doubt that it was her hard work and dedication that created, nurtured and developed the Circle to become the highly appreciated and successful body it now is. For that we all owe her a great debt.
Tributes to Barbara

27 Apr 2020: The Barbara

Olive Smith Memorial Trophy

As you will know our calendar of events had The Iain Pattison Short Story Competition down for announcement last week. In view of the recent sad news there has been some discussion as to whether it would be appropriate to hold the competition at this time. It was decided that with Barbara's indomitable spirit she would have wanted, indeed insisted on the competition being held. The competition has always been the highlight of our writing calendar and we had previously agreed that we would rename the competition in her honour, although we had hoped then that she would still be with us. We had also agreed that there would be an annual trophy award to the winner. Therefore from now on the competition will be for The Barbara Olive Smith Memorial Trophy. This year's competition is now open, with details on the Competitions page. Iain Pattison has again kindly agreed to judge our entries and provide a critique of each.
Derek says it should should be available in paperback soon. A tip he would like to pass on is that he was advised by a friend in publishing to press ahead and upload the book rather than wait for a publishing deal. She read his manuscript and wrote a review which she posted on one of the sites. The hope is, that the more reviews he gets, the better the chance of attracting publishers. As he says, “On the other hand, if it sells well anyway, then I won't need one!”
The book that Derek has regailed us with (or should that be ‘with which Derek has regailed us’) at past meetings, of the real variety, has now reached the bookshelves, well the Amazon web site, at least. Currently, the ebook can be ontained at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=oxford+road+d erek+walsh&crid=TWPQL50U04ZL&sprefix=O xford+Road+Derek%2Caps%2C160&ref=nb_s b_ss_i_1_17

11 May 2020: Oxford Road is Published

JOIN A THEATRE COMEDY PROJECT!

Free Online Comedy Project - Build your computer confidence & laugh and socialise with your peers! Reading's StrikeUp Theatre are looking for people aged 70 and over who are feeling cut off from their neighbours, friends and family and would enjoy the opportunity to meet new people in a relaxed, playful environment. We are working in association with AgeUK Berkshire and Reading Borough Council to bring you 6 free comedy theatre workshops, whilst delivering a crash course in video communications online. WHEN - Thursdays, 11AM-12PM, 28th May - 2nd July WHERE - Your Living Room - the course is run through a computer system which we can teach you how to use WHAT - Over six sessions, you will learn the secrets of being funny onscreen, from physical clowning tricks to the secret of comic timing, taught by experienced theatre practitioners from StrikeUp Theatre. Plus, you will learn how to get the best out of video conferencing applications like FaceTime and Zoom. Over the six weeks, we will put together a unique comedy performance from an original script, written specifically to meet the challenges of an online video workshop. HOW TO JOIN - To sign up, get in contact with Rachel from StrikeUp Theatre: EMAIL - rachel@strikeuptheatre.co.uk PHONE - 07514712785 Check out our video explaining the project - https://youtu.be/5z1wesMyLEk Rachel, Mary, Artistic Director, StrikeUp Theatre www.strikeuptheatre.co.uk rachel@strikeuptheatre.co.uk/ 07514712785 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SGE8AMKQNg&t=41s

Joffe Books have brought out Kindle editions of my

first two Regency Tales, with more atmospheric

covers and dynamic blurbs.

26 May 2020: Beth Elliott Latest

.

There’s more about Beth’s

books, and soon to be pub-

lished works, at

www.regencytales.co.uk

The Wild Card:

from Amazon page

In All Honour:

from Amazon page

Third prize goes to Les Williams for his tale ‘Deadweight’. Iain said “This smashing tale is written with confidence and skill”.
The winner this year is Neil Somerville with his story ‘Your Call’. Iain said “This is one of those stories that makes me think: Wow - I wish I’d written that.”
The second place went to Rob Stallard with his story ‘Selling J.K. at Hay’. Iain said “I loved this story. It’s gentle but contains a very dry, wicked sense of humour”.
23 Jun 2020: Barbara Olive Smith Memorial Competition Results The event was judged by Iain Pattison. There were 12 short stories submitted with the theme ‘The Wisdom of Age’. Iain said that he really enjoys reading our stories as they are always highly inventive and often very amusing. Stories from TVWC are always of a very high standard.
25 Jun 2020: Magazine Success for Dick Congratulations to Dick in getting his short story 'Sweet Wine or Sour Grapes' published in Woman’s Weekly - in the current fiction special of that magazine. Dick originally read this story to us several weeks before we went into lockdown. He re-wrote the piece following our comments and presented it to us in week 2 of our virtual meetings in March. If you are a regular reader of the magazine, you may have a little difficulty in finding Dick’s story as ‘they’ changed the title to 'Growing Close', and of course, it's under Dick’s nom-de-plume, Charlotte Sawdon.

7 Jul 2020: TVWC s into the

Future

by Walter After a few minor glitches, we managed to hold a virtual meeting via Zoom. I set up the meeting and was joined by Les W, Les C, Vicky, Nick, Neil, Sally and Helen C. Stuart tried but was unable to get any sound on his computer. Nick amused us with his animated alien climbing around his room. Les W read his short story That Entrepreneurial Spirit’. There was some agreement with Les C’s comment that it didn’t seem to have the same impact as it would have had in a real meeting room. There was some discussion around the subject of ‘garden meetings’ and regular Zoom meetings but no agreements were reached. I explained that this meeting was set up to try out the technology so that we would be able to have an AGM later in the month. Normally meetings are free if they last less than 40 minutes but, for whatever reason, half way through the meeting, Zoom put up a message on our screens saying that the time limit was lifted, as a gift to us. At the end of the meeting I was messaged by Zoom to say that if another meeting was booked immediately, there would again be no time limit. Trying to get us in the habit is my guess. The AGM is booked and will be online. Details will be emailed nearer the time.

28 Jul 2020: Zoom AGM a Success

by Les Williams At the AGM we agreed the following. 1. There will be Summer Homework, as usual. This year the rule is to use an opening sentence from one book, and the final sentence from another. The maximum word count is 1500. You can use the following two sentences to open and close, or if preferred you can choose your own, (noting at the end which two books the sentences are from, and the authors). Opening sentence; They stood in the doorway and stomped the rain from their boots and swung their hats and wiped the water from their faces. (From Cities of the Plain, by Cormac McCarthy). Closing sentence; He went back and forth, changing his mind daily. (From Theodore Boon, by John Grisham). Your stories can be emailed to Walter for posting on Corona-f. webmaster@thamesvalleywriterscircle.org.
2. It was agreed that we will take an August break as usual. This means that there will be no activity on Corona-f (except for submitting the Summer Homework) until Tuesday 2nd September, (our "virtual" return date). 3. Garden meetings may continue in August but they will be dependant on hosts and take- up. Invites will come from the host via Stuart, and you must reply direct to the host if you wish to attend. 4. September meetings. We will try to use zoom, for two meetings a month, with readings and feedback. Walter is investigating how we can read the stories on zoom as they are being read. This would make following each story, and being able to comment on them, easier. I hope you enjoy the rest of our summer, despite these bizarre times, and I look forward to our "return" in September. Kind regards Les

3 Aug 2020: Marta’s Poem in Snakeskin

For those that don’t know it, Snakeskin is a poetry ‘webzine’ that invites contributions for its monthly issues. This month it has accepted a poem from Martha - “Monday Morning”. You can read and enjoy it at Snakeskin. On the Snakeskin site, click on the lady with the big hair to see a list of this month’s contributions.

1 Sep 2020: New Term Meetings

Twelve people ‘attended’ the first meeting of the new term and read their summer homework stories which were well received. An added bonus was that we were able to display the stories on participant’s screens while they were being read. It has been suggested that we might be able to give better feedback to those reading at Zoom meetings if their work is available to be read before the meeting. We would like to give the idea a try, so send in your work for the next Zoom meeting (15 Sep) as early as you can. Walter will put it on the web site (Corona-file page) ASAP for all to read and consider before the meeting. The work will still be read at the meeting in the usual way for the benefit of those who had been unable to read them beforehand. When sending work to Walter for meetings, please indicate which meeting you intend it to be read at, as there may be some overlap with stories arriving in Walter’s Inbox for different meetings. Next week’s meeting (8 Sep) will be the ‘old’ style Corona-file meeting (without Zoom). Make sure your material is sent to Walter to put on the Corona-File page in good time for the meeting. From then on the weekly meetings will alternate Zoom/non- Zoom.
Joyce & Gerry

15 Sep 2020: Thirteen’s a Winning

Number

During this week’s meeting on Zoom, thirteen people attended for some or all of the duration of the meeting. Overcoming time, distance and technology, the meeting included: Sarah - she read us her piece on her smartphone, from the passenger seat of a car, then had to leave us when her battery ran down. Rebecca - her internet was unreliable, so she joined us via a dial-up phone connection which meant she had no video, but she could still join in! Richard - bleary eyed but determined, he read us his story from his home in Melbourne, and regaled us with tales of Australia in lockdown. It was very like one of our face-to-face meeting with readings, discussion of the readings, then wandering off the point and Les getting us back in order. Everyone seems to be getting comfortable with the technology so anyone who hasn’t taken the plunge yet, have a go, it really isn’t difficult!
Neil with the new trophy which he won in the inaugural competition earlier this year with his Who Wants to be a Millionaire story, Your Call. The competition, in memory of our late founder, was judged by Iain Pattison. Selecting and engraving the trophy has been delayed by Covid-19 but now the trophy and winner have been united.

17 Sep 2020: The Barbara Olive Smith

Trophy Has Arrived

for writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry
Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
News
for writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry
Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
News