Monday, 20 December 2010

Book Sale 20th December - Cancelled

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this sale has had to be cancelled.

The Writing Buddies apologise for this and hopes it causes no inconvenience.  Writing Buddies books are available on the 'Buy Our Books' page on the Writing Buddies blog.

Writing Buddies authors look forward to meeting their readers at a date in the future.

Monday, 13 December 2010

A First for Writing Buddies ...

Writing Buddies' Book Sale - 20th December 2010

The countdown has begun! There are only 7 days to go to the first ever Writing Buddies book sale.

If you are looking for a personalised gift this Christmas, you need look no further than Goblets, Above Bar, Southampton, between noon and 4pm, on Monday 20th December. The Writing Buddies will be there for a one-off sale of their work.

Authors planning to be there are:

Tessa Warburg - the leading authority on knitting with many books on the subject to her credit; a noted novelist, the first two books in the Dohlen trilogy are out now, and a non-fiction author.

Catherine King - the author of five novels, the latest, The Orphan Child, is just published.

J Goodman - his book of poetry, Poetic Imagery, is now available.

Mo Foster - the author of the novel A Blues for Shindig, Mo is also a noted blogger.

Penny Legg - the founder of Writing Buddies will be there with her two non-fiction titles,Folklore of Hampshire and Southampton Then and Now. She will also be taking advance orders for her new book, out in the New Year, Haunted Southampton.

James Marsh - will be there taking advance orders for his book, Growing Up in Wartime Britain: Someone Else's Trousers, which is due for publication in May 2011.

So, if you fancy coming along and meeting the authors, buying signed copies of their work, learning more about Writing Buddies, we will be happy to welcome you!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Southampton Then and Now

It's finally arrived on my doorstep!  Yes, Southampton Then and Now has been published and should be in a shop near you now.  I am very pleased to see it as I was getting a little worried about its non-arrival, particularly as I am signing copies of it in the British Bookshop in Southampton on Saturday 30th October at noon onwards!  It would have been very embarrassing to have turned up and found there were no supplies to sign!

See you on Saturday!

Bournemouth Literary Festival

It's Bournemouth Literary Festival's sixth year and it is good to hear that so many of the events are well supported.  On Tuesday evening, 26th October,  I chaired a panel discussion on writing genres and getting into print, with three writers who have each been published in different areas.  Jackie Edwards writes local history, Martin Baum writes the 'Yoof-speak' books and John Houghton fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays.  They combined their experience to give an interesting insight into the world of writing and getting published.  The discussion ranged over such areas as agents and the need (or not) for them, finances, publishers and how to find one, marketing and publicity.  Questions from the floor covered getting books into libraries and the Public Lending Right (PLR).

The photo shows Jackie Edwards, Martin Baum, Festival Organiser Lillian Avon, Penny Legg, John Houghton

This is the second year I have chaired this panel discussion for the Bournemouth Literary Festival.  It is a bit of a trek in the rush hour traffic, the dark and the rain from Southampton, but worth every minute as it is a useful event for any writer trying to break into the business and needing advice.

The festival website gives full details of the other events going on this year.  Enjoy!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Folklore of Hampshire at Waterstones, West Quay

I was delighted to be at Waterstones' bookshop in the West Quay Centre, Southampton, on Saturday.  Friends turned up to support me, which was wonderful, and several people bought copies of 'Folklore of Hampshire', which was great!  I am pictured with Kit, a very good friend of the family, who came along to give me a hug and buy a book.  It was lovely to see him, and his mother, Christine.

Several Writing Buddies turned up too and it was great to see some of them in the foyer outside the shop, reading my book.  I know that members of the public saw them and came in to find me.  Thanks guys!

Many thanks to the staff of Waterstones, who were very helpful and welcoming.  I look forward to meeting their colleagues at the Lymington branch on Saturday 21 August, between 11 and 2.  I hope you can join us.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Penny Legg in the Limelight

Waterstones in Portsmouth welcomed my little book and I, and, I have to say, I enjoyed meeting a diverse crowd of local readers.  Thanks for having me Pompey!

The official launch of Folklore of Hampshire was on Sunday 1st August at the Brushmakers Arms in tiny Upham.  Over 70 people attended and they were intrigued by the book and the haunted venue. It was lovely to see some of the people who had helped me with the research for the book and friends came from far and wide. My thanks to Keith and Nicola Venton, the inn's owners, who saw to it that everything went smoothly.

I will be signing the book at the West Quay, Southampton, branch of Waterstones on Saturday 14th August between 11 and 3 o'clock.  See you there.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Waterstones, Portsmouth, Saturday 24th July 2010!

I am looking forward to popping along to the Waterstones branch in Portsmouth on Saturday.  I will be there from 11 am until 3 pm, signing copies of Folklore of Hampshire.  I do hope you can join me as there is nothing worse for an author than to sit twiddling her thumbs for hours on end and to leave without talking to a soul!

I look forward to meeting you there!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Life is always busy!

Life is always busy and it has never been more so for me lately.  I was interviewed for a local community newspaper, Hedge End People, the other day and today the piece has been published.  If you would like to read it, click here.

I was invited to speak about my life and work at the July Writers in Southampton meeting and met an interesting group of writers there. I also presented a workshop on getting articles into magazines for New Forest writers.  This group was very responsive to my ideas and it was a very lively meeting indeed.  Thanks to both groups for inviting me.

I received the new front cover for my forthcoming book, Southampton Then and Now, today.  The cover previously shown on this blog was a temporary one and I am sad to see it go.  There was a problem with one of the images and the new ones have much more impact and so, it was a case of out with the old and in with the new! Now I have to work out how to put a pdf image on to this blog, so that you can see it!  Watch this space ...

I have been busy working on the marketing of Folklore of Hampshire.  I will be book signing at the Portsmouth branch of Waterstones on 24th July, at Southampton's West Quay Waterstones on 14th August and at the Lymington branch on 21st August.  I do hope those interested will show up!  There is nothing worse than an author turning up and finding herself twiddling her thumbs for four hours!  It would be great to meet some of my readers, so if you are in any of these places on these dates, do please look me up and come over and chat.

It is Writing Buddies tomorrow and, as the deadline for the anthology competition draws nearer (the end of the month), I can sense the excitement building within the group.  It is the first competition the Writing Buddies have run and the winners and two runners up in each category will be published in an anthology at the end of the year.  More on this in a later blog.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Folklore of Hampshire by Penny Legg - out now!

I was delighted to receive a message from both Waterstones' management and my publisher, The History Press, to tell me that my book Folklore of Hampshire had arrived on the market, so I nipped down to my local branch, in West Quay, Southampton, to see the book for myself.  As you can see above, I was pleased to find it on this shelf, and several more about the bookshop.  Thanks Waterstones!

If you would like to buy a signed copy, click here.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Swanage Armed Forces and Veterans' Weekend

Just back from the Swanage Armed Forces and Veterans Weekend.

Well, what fun it was!  Winston Churchill chatted to the public, a panther assault vehicle and several other preserved military vehicles were on display and some on parade, a super singer of 1940s songs (more about her in a later post) entertained a stiff upper-lipped crowd (the wind was biting) who sang and danced along with her, a street party with spam and jam sandwiches (not together, I hasten to add) was a novelty to many and, of course, the veterans, cadets and serving Armed Forces personnel were in attendence.   All of this  went together to bring a touch of nostalgia to the town's sea front.

On Sunday, the salute was taken by Lt Col James Coward, the commanding officer from nearby Lulworth Camp.  The parade drew many hundreds of people to line the route and was a moving tribute to all those past, present and future service personnel and allied groups.

Monday, 14 June 2010

It's the Penny and Joe Legg Show!

Well, it is has been a busy time in the Legg household recently.

Yesterday we were at Weymouth, on the south-west coast, for the Veterans' Parade along the seafront.  We  made a weekend of it and took Phyllis, our campervan, out for its first proper overnight trial.  She passed but we now realise just how cosy she is!

Joe took part in the parade, this time for the Royal British Legion Riders Branch, which he joined last year.  He looked very dashing in his leather waistcoat and medal!  Over 50 riders took part, far more than in the same event last year.  They joined cadets, serving and veteran personnel as well as military vehicles and re-enactors keeping memories alive.

I, on the other hand, was at the Society of Women Writers & Journalists Summer Festival recently.  I was presented with the third prize in the Lady Violet Astor Competition for a Published Article, for my interview with the Commodore of the Queen Mary II, which won the Scroll Award 2009.  It was printed in Hampshire Life magazine last year.

Photograph by Silja Swaby, shows me with competition judge, Hilary Townsend.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A big success ...

One of my students, David Casellas, has emailed me to tell me that one of his articles has been published on the Counselling Directory website he belongs to. It is a super article, on the perils of addiction, and is worthy of as wide an audience as possible.  If you would like to read it click here.  Congratulations, David.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Bank Holiday Weekend = New Bathroom!

This bank holiday may not have been very exciting in terms of weather, but here in the Legg household it was quite eventful.  The reason was that the long awaited new bathroom suite was installed.  Hurrah!

For months we had talked about it, we had raided the sales and found 'the perfect suite' and then stored it until we had the time to install it.  This May Bank Holiday weekend was the time!

We had the usual trials and tribulations - the chief being that we had not thought about the fact that we were replacing a standard rectangular bath with a P-shaped shower bath.  Of course, this is the Legg household so it was a foregone conclusion that things would not go smoothly, none of the fittings lined up with the old wastes and pipework, and much time was spent in faffing about trying to make them fit. We are not professionals, and it showed!  We also found that the previous owners of the bathroom had tiled over old tiles, the pretty blue ones in the picture, instead of replacing them.  Sigh.

Still, now it is in and we just need to tidy up and install the last minute bits and pieces, like flooring.  Phew!

Our thanks to my brother, who stayed the weekend and saved the day.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Penny Legg and the Romsey Plaza Theatre Tipping Table!

Well, what a night! If you are interested in the paranormal and want to have a safe encounter with things that go bump in the night, then you would do well to sign up for one of Haunted Southampton's paranormal investigations.

I joined several other enthusiasts at the company's examination of the Plaza Theatre, Romsey, and was completely amazed at the results. Cameras were set up all over the theatre and mediums walked the many corridors and penetrated the rooms before the main group arrived. They picked up several presences in the building.

I was able to take this video footage of ghostly table tipping - let me know what you think:

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Penny Legg goes ghost hunting

Tonight is going to be something special.  I have been invited to be a guest of Haunted Southampton, the paranormal investigation group, as they investigate the Romsey Theatre.  I will be talking to the theatre management and to the investigators in an effort to understand just what is involved in ghost hunting.  I will be writing about the experience later and using my better understanding in my book, Haunted Southampton which is due out in February 2011.  I have been told to bring a torch and to leave any glittery jewellery behind.  I am busy charging cameras and clearing my dictaphone.  I will let you know more when I come back tomorrow morning!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Folklore of Hampshire by Penny Legg

Exciting times have arrived in the Legg household!  The page proofs of my book, Folklore of Hampshire are on their way for my attention and, yesterday, I had a long chat with the sales rep from The History Press, Ian Pierson.  He has spoken to several potential outlets for the book and two branches of Waterstone's are interested in my coming along for a book signing event in the summer.  This is nice to know and I am looking forward to working with these bookshops in the very near future.  I have been so busy working on other books that Folklore of Hampshire has been demoted to the back of my mind recently. It is now back in the forefront and I am looking forward to holding the finished version in my hand soon.  Folklore of Hampshire is due out in July.

Eling Tide Mill on Suite 101

I have just published another article on Suite 101.  This one is about Eling Tide Mill, which I find fascinating and have written about several times, including for my book, Folklore of Hampshire.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Penny Legg and Suite 101

Several colleagues have advocated my writing for Suite 101 and so I have taken the plunge.  I applied last week, was accepted as a contributing writer and have now posted my first article.  I found it quite a painless experience.  Now I just need to get a few people to read it!  So, if you fancy learning a little about a great Caribbean museum, please feel free to visit my piece on the Heritage Collection Museum in Anguilla.  Let me know what you think of it.  I will be posting further articles shortly, so bookmark my page!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The York Festival of Writing

I'm back!  Deadbeat, intellectually stimulated, with a notepad full of notes and with a bag stuffed full of goodwill.  I made new friends, was able to help new writers with writing problems (I was surprised by the number of writers I met who thought that 60,000 words were sufficient for a novel.), sat in on a few workshops and lectures and spoke to many people about the myriad benefits of joining professional associations and writing groups.  The workshop I co-presented ('Writing Groups to Get You Published', with Silja Swaby and Jay Cole) to an enthusiastic and committed audience went well and the Afternoon Tea with ... session saw the Society of Women Writers and Journalists' tables overwhelmed with interest.

Harry Bingham and his colleagues attracted over 400 writers to his first Festival of Writing at York university.  They came to meet and learn from some big names in the writing world - Katie Fforde gave the first keynote address and other participants included Sue Moorcroft, RJ Ellory, Helen Corner and members of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists.

We all learnt from the experience.  Roger Ellory gave some startling statistics, which brought a gasp: 80% of all books published in the UK sell 500 copies or less and writers survive on an average income of just £7,000 a year. Only 2% of the books published can be classed as 'best sellers'. Makes you think, eh?

I now have a Twitter account, (so come and find me!) after listening to Robin Harvie from 4th Estate, part of HarperCollins.  He advocated Twitter for building up a fan base.  I am giving it a go.  After all, if it works for Stephen Fry, (he has over a million and a half followers) it may work for me!

Now I am back home after an intense weekend.  I can't wait for the next one!  Many thanks Harry and Co for having me and congratulations on a job well done!

Friday, 9 April 2010

York Festival of Writing

Today I am off to York to attend the York Festival of Writing.  This promises to be an action-packed weekend, with lots of learning and networking opportunities.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The latest news

I finally finished my latest book, Southampton Then and Now, on Ash Wednesday and rushed it up to Stroud, to the headquarters of The History Press. I then allowed myself a small sigh of relief and the delights of a picnic on the common behind the THP's impressive water mill buildings.

Things had got a bit hectic in the week or so leading up to the deadline.  The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Girl Guides, the Sea Rangers, The Art House and the Hampshire Constabulary Band had all found it more convenient to have me over to take photographs in the week before the deadline.  I am very grateful that all of these groups thought my project was worthwhile enough to participate in. A full week meant that yours truly was busily occupied sorting out all that needed to be done to get the resulting images and their captions ready for the book by the deadline.  I had little time for the real world, which was a pity as it was my brother's birthday three days before deadline and, when the family met up to celebrate, I was a bit preoccupied.

In the meantime, it was also deadline time for the April edition of The Woman Writer magazine, which I  edit for The Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ).  This edition was characterised by the lack of a suitable photograph for the front cover.  Society members usually send in something suitable but this edition that was not the case.  In the end, as the magazine is celebrating its centenary, I took the front cover of the November 1915 edition as my front cover. This featured an advertisement for 'Hampers from a Norfolk farm'.  A hamper containing a chicken or a duck, a boiling fowl, eggs, 2 vegetables and herbs could be had for 7/6.  If you wanted the bird plucked and trussed it was 3d extra.   Super!  In an age when the advertising revenue for the magazine is almost non-existent, it was nice to see that the magazine had such delights on its pages in years past.  My thanks for the 1915 edition go to the indefatigable Sylvia Kent, whose two years of research went into making her history of the SWWJ, The Woman Writer, such an enjoyable read.

Two days before my book deadline BBC Radio Solent called me at home to ask if I still wanted some help finding archive photographs for my book.  I had sent them a request for assistance a few months ago. As the book in question was Southampton Then and Now and by the time they called it was nearly finished, I said that now I was fine but thanked them for contacting me.  The call then proceeded to a chat about the other books I am writing.  One thing led to another and, hey presto, a reporter was sent around later that same day to interview me.  If you fancy listening to the resulting conversation, it will be broadcast tomorrow, Thursday 8th April, on the mid morning show, at about 10.15.  Radio Solent is 96.1FM, 103.8FM & DAB or online here.

My friend and colleague, Simon Whaley, has listed one of my blogs in his top ten favourite blogsites.  Writing Buddies comes in at No.8!  Great!  Thanks Simon. 

Talking of Writing Buddies, I was pleased to see the group featured in the May edition of Writers' News.  

Still talking of Writing Buddies, I was so pleased to hear that James Marsh, a Writing Buddy from the beginning, has just heard that his book, Someone Else's Trousers, has been accepted for publication by The History Press. A blog is imminent, so I will bring you this when it happens.

After all this excitement, it is time to slow down and get on with some other work.  Since Christmas new writers have been taking to the pen in large numbers, as they take their first steps towards putting their New Year 'must write something' resolutions to the test.  This is refreshing to see. I love reading their work and helping them on the path to publication.  

Whilst I do this I am preparing for the York Festival of Writing over the weekend 9th - 11th April.  I am assisting, with colleagues from the SWWJ and other professional writers, agents and publishers, on an informal advice session, 'Afternoon Tea with ...' and then co-hosting a workshop, 'Writing Groups To Get You Published' with Silja Swaby and Jay Cole. I am looking forward to being back in York, a place that I love visiting.

Next on the agenda is my book, Haunted Southampton.  If you have any ghostly tales to tell, about things that go bump in the night in or around the city, let me know!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Penny's Website

After messing up my website the other day, I took the plunge and revamped the whole thing this week.  I felt that the old sandy coloured background was out of date now, so have changed the whole thing to a more up-to-date, off-white coloured background with elegant swirly buttons.  Anyway, if you fancy having a peek, here is the address: Feedback is welcome!

Borders Bookshop, Australia

I was absolutely delighted to find that, although we have lost Borders bookshop here in the UK, overseas it is still a going concern. Even more importantly from my point of view, my book, Folklore of Hampshire, is on sale in Borders Australia.

Good, eh?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

folklore of Hampshire by Penny Legg - Unveiled!

Hot off the presses comes the front cover of my book, Folklore of Hampshire, which comes out in July.  I love it!  It is my favourite colour and I have written about several nautical items in the book, so the front engraving is entirely appropriate.  I am now looking forward to holding the real thing in my hand!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

It seemed like a good idea...

Yes, last night it seemed like a good idea to update my website -  I had neglected it for ages and it was about time it got a facelift.  The only trouble is that I thought I would do it on my husband's laptop, whilst watching TV with him.  Big mistake.

I downloaded the site builder software and transferred my site on to it but it did not pick up some of the photographs and the presentation was all to pot.  I spent hours last night trying to put it right and will have to do the same today to bring it back up to scratch.  Rats!

Morale of the tale: work on your own computer, so you don't have to download anything, and don't do it while distracted by scary spider films late at night!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A morning in the life of Penny Legg...

Bright and early this morning - 06.15 to be precise - I was camera in hand for a photoshoot at the Bitterne police station in Southampton.  I am working on my next book, Southampton Then and Now, and was re-creating a 1960s image of a line of police cars coming out of the station, being directed by a uniformed policeman in the street.  

As times have changed and health and safety regulations have come into force, we had to recreate the shot in the early morning, before there were too many cars about, as we needed to shut the road briefly.  I had taken along a reflective jacket, which managed to make me look ten times my usual bulky self, but did do the trick as it was still getting light when we started to set up the shot.  My husband, on his way to work, stopped to watch and took the shot above of me in action.

I have to say a big thank you to Sgt Ashthorpe and Sgt Selby at the Bitterne station for their cheerful co-operation, and to the Police Constables behind the wheels of the four cars involved.  A big thank you too to Derek Stevens and Paul Stickler at the Hampshire Constabulary Historical Society for setting up this and other such photography opportunities for me, for this and other books.  

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A New Blog is Born - Southampton Then and Now

I have today set up a new blog for my book, Southampton Then and Now.  In the process I found that the name had been changed on Amazon to reflect the name change from its former title, Southampton Past and Present.  This is a good move, as I have had one or two puzzled people ask me about it!

I am still working on this book, so if anyone has any old photographs of any aspect of Southampton, which may be suitable to be re-photographed to present a then and now pairing, I would very much like to hear of them.  I am particularly looking for a photograph of the old pier and more photographs showing people at their place of work.

In the meantime, this book comes out at the beginning of October.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Penny Legg in Writers' Forum magazine!

I see that Dina La Vardera's article on 'How not to behave at a writing workshop' has been published in the March edition of Writers' Forum. I am especially pleased to see this article as Dina came to me for assistance with it and I was able to give her an insight into workshops from a tutor's point of view. The article is humorous and interesting and is, I think, thought provoking. It is good to see it given a double page spread and it was kind of Dina to mention my forthcoming book, Folklore of Hampshire, which arrives in the shops in July.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Penny Legg at the Southampton Writers' Circle

I was a guest at the Southampton Writers' Circle recently, where I gave an illustrated talk, 'Writing Articles Can Be Fun!' to a predominantly fiction writing audience. I had been specifically asked to give that talk, as many of the group were in the dark about what constituted an article, and the subject was thought of as dry and dusty. No one actually wants to write articles and actually enjoys doing so, do they?

Well, I think by the end of the talk, which was followed by a short workshop on gathering article ideas, using market handbooks for suitable publications to sell the idea to and working on an outline for the article, the writers present had changed their minds. There can be some fun in writing articles! Of course, I told them a little about some of the things I have got up to when working on magazine pieces, some of which are in the archives of this blog. I have been fortunate in some of the opportunities I have been offered and this has led to some fun adventures. I hope that my talk gave a boost to those who had toyed with the idea of article writing but did not really know how to go about it. I look forward to hearing on the grapevine that articles are now being written in the group and that members will be reporting publishing successes soon.

Many thanks to the Southampton Writers' Circle for having me.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Penny Legg's 'Southampton Then and Now'

Well, I had a nice surprise today. I knew that my publisher (The History Press) had been working on the front cover for my next book, Southampton Then and Now and today the first draft of it came through by email. It is not quite what we both want, as it does look a little bare in places, but it is nice to see the mock-up and my name on it. I think we will be looking at this again next week.

I will shortly be launching a blog for each of Folklore of Hampshire and Southampton Then and Now, so watch this space!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Southampton Then and Now

So far February is proving quite interesting. I have been busy working on my next book, which has had a name change from Southampton Past and Present, to Southampton Then and Now, although it is still on Amazon in its former name. The book is a photographic history of the city, using archive images and up to date colour photographs to chart the changes over time.

I met a super motorcycle policeman at Southampton City Police Station, who was very happy to wheel out his BMW 1200 cc bike and pose in front of the station building for me, while I took photographs of him looking off into the distance. My thanks to PC Holland, who entered into the spirit of the occasion with gusto.

I was driving past the Old Farm House public house the other day and noticed its extreme age, so pulled up and popped in. The building dates from 1611 and the present landlords, Barrie and Jo, were happy to help me with archive images. They and their staff also posed for 21st century shots, so I was a very happy Penny and my thanks go to them too.

Over the weekend I was to be spotted at several locations in the city peering over walls or looking up from the depths with a camera, ably assisted by my long suffering husband. I have a little way to go yet, the book is not going to be ready for the publisher for another seven or so weeks, but it is coming together nicely. It is due for publication at the beginning of October.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

A funny old world

It's a funny old world. I was gaily thinking that I had got away with catching any of the nasty bugs going around at this time of year, when I woke up one morning a few days ago and found I had a cold of epic proportions and I was disgusting to live with. Ho hum...

So, apart from feeling sorry for myself, what have I been up to? Well, not a great deal. Sneezing and sleeping have comprised the majority of this week but I did go into Southampton and meet up with a brave young man on Tuesday. He is brave on two fronts: first to put up with my sneezing, which got steadily worse as our meeting wore on, and, secondly, for the fact that his job is ghost hunting. Yes, that is right, he hunts ghost for a living. Andrew House is a paranormal investigator and he knows his stuff. He agreed to talk to me for my forthcoming book, Haunted Southampton, due out in 2011. I know now about the different stages to a haunting and the difference between some of the sensationalism seen in the media and a proper scientific investigation. Andrew was a fountain of information and I thank him very much for talking to me.

I have heard from Sylvia Kent recently. Readers of this blog will know that Sylvia published The Woman Writer, the history of The Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ), in November. This fascinating story recounts tales of some of the great names in English literature over the past 116 years. Sylvia was kind enough to mention me as editor, in the section on the Society's magazine, The Woman Writer, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Since its publication, Sylvia has been a busy lady and much in demand for television and radio interviews. Her well written and entertaining book has done much to increase the profile of the SWWJ.

Talking of radio interviews, my writing buddy, Rob Innis will be on the radio in Spain on Saturday. He will be talking about football, his great passion. Good luck Rob!

Today I heard officially that I passed my PTLLS course (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector). I was verbally told I had passed in December but today received the news in writing. Another couple of weeks and I will have the Certificate too. Now all I need is somewhere to practice my new found skills. I have given tutorials and one to one sessions on several subjects over a long period of time, but, as with everything these days, I needed the piece of paper to prove I could teach! Now it would be really nice if there was a learning establishment out there in reader land who would like my services. On my website there is a list of workshops and talks which I give and I am always open to suggestions for further sessions. If anyone out there reading this is interested, please contact me.

OK that is enough from me for now. I am now going to find the vapour rub!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Writing Buddies at The Art House, Southampton

Writing Buddies has a new home. This is an announcement I am really pleased to be able to make. The Art House in Southampton, 178 Above Bar Street, has opened its doors to us and when we held our first meeting there it proved to be a hit with all concerned, not least because the coffee is excellent and the staff are very pleasant.

The next meeting is tomorrow, Friday 29th January, at 2pm. Everyone is welcome. Wendy Hughes will be our guest.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A New Year ...

Another January and another birthday approaching. Time flies, doesn't it? I thought, before the fateful day actually arrives, I would take some time out and look back over 2009 and forward to what I know is coming along in 2010.

2009 was not an easy year for anyone, I think. For me it saw my efforts to establish myself back in the UK for the first time in nearly eight years. I tried to do so during the worst recession in living memory, which was, perhaps, not the best of timing. To say I found this a challenge is an understatement.

The first thing I noticed was that editors wanted a lot for their money, or were not prepared to pay anything at all for honest work. I joined the National Union of Journalists and have found this to be useful in terms of asking for advice, but if an editor ignores you, refuses to reply to messages, and runs your work without byline or payment, I find that there is not a lot of help at all. I have learnt a valuable lesson from this and will not approach a certain editor again as he is untrustworthy. My list of publications to avoid, which, thankfully, is small, has lengthened in 2009.

On a positive note, I have found that publishers are interested in writers who would like to write non-fiction books, and who know one end of a camera from another. Thus I signed four book contracts in 2009, and have been busy with the very interesting job of researching folklore, taking photographs out and about in Hampshire and finding out more about the county. Folklore of Hampshire is now with the publisher and should be in the shops in July. Southampton Past and Present is now available for pre-order on Amazon and will be in the shops in October. Haunted Southampton and Winchester: History You Can See will both be available on Amazon soon, and will be published in early 2011.

I have missed the warmth of Bangladesh and Anguilla since I came back to Blighty. I lived in thermal socks for most of the first five months of 2009 and think the inventor of these most useful items of footwear should receive some kind of accolade, if he has not already done so!

During the year I successfully studied to improve my mathematics qualifications, took another course with the wonderful Open University, this time in creative writing, and also took a PTLLS course (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) to enable me to teach at night school and to offer workshops etcetera to adults. I also began tutoring on the non-fiction and the proofreading and copy editing courses for The Writers Bureau. In terms of personal development, 2009 was a good year!

I have edited The Woman Writer for The Society of Women Writers and Journalists for a year now and have learnt a lot along the way. I have found that I cannot please everyone all the time and so, to save my sanity, I have decided to please the majority and not to worry about the minority, who will always find something to complain about. I realised the other day, with something of a shock I have to say, that I have edited magazines in four different countries for more than fourteen years. This experience has stood me in good stead with The Woman Writer, which is now celebrating its 100th anniversary.

I went out and about in 2009. I love meeting people and talking to them about their lives, hobbies and careers. Two trips stand out in my mind. The visit to Swanage, in Dorset, I made in May to cover the Veterans Day events there, and to St Agnes in deepest Cornwall, to meet a couple whose home is a living museum of wartime memorabilia. Super!

It was not all work though. I was surprised by the amount of interest shown when I blogged about the new kitchen we had installed in our home, with several emails sent in protest when I dared to suggest that perhaps readers were getting bored with a blow by blow daily account of the work in progress! Later in the year the Legg household acquired Phyllis, an ancient, and very tiny, Suzuki campervan, which I bought on ebay as a project to do up, and which I hope will be fun to travel around in next summer. This was after a disastrous camping trip, which saw a storm ruin our tent and made us vow not to camp again!

In May I started Writing Buddies, the group for writers in Southampton. This was a venture begun to bring together professional and aspiring writers for coffee and writing related chat, and has proved highly successful. We met in Borders bookshop in the city until the shop closed and then moved to the central library for the last meeting of the year. We will meet again at the end of January, at a venue to be decided.

I was pleased to be presented with the Scroll Award for Writing, by the Southampton Writers' Circle, for my piece on the Master of the Queen Mary II, which I wrote for Hampshire Life magazine. This was a very pleasant surprise.

I was interviewed by Express FM radio at the end of the year, which was great fun and I looked forward to hearing the broadcast, but this was not to be. I have now heard that the broadcast tape has been 'lost' and so you can imagine what I think of this radio station now ...

So, looking forward, I will expand my series of talks and workshops, about aspects of writing, my life, photography and folklore. I am speaking to the Southampton Writers' Circle in February, talking and co-hosting a workshop at the Festival of Writing in York in April and speaking at the July meeting of the Writers In Southampton (WiS) group. I am also open to new challenges, so am actively looking for these.

I am also looking forward to the launch of the two books coming out this year. My mother keeps saying that she never thought she would have an author for a daughter! I wonder why she says this, as I have been writing since I was a small child. It was only a matter of time.

So, on that note, I will sign off. Happy New Year everyone!