Friday, 28 August 2009

'The Importance of Narrative in Games' seminar.

As part of their "Visionary Sessions" series, Northwest Vision and Media present ‘The Importance of Narrative in Games’, a discussion led by Matt Costello.

Matt's best-selling and award-winning work across all media has meshed game play, technology and story. He is the writer and creator of groundbreaking TV, novels, non-fiction books and games in both the U.S. and U.K. and has scripted dozens of best-selling games such as The 7th Guest, Shellshock-Nam ‘67, Bad Boys 2 and Doom 3 (winner of five awards at E3 including the Game Critics Award: Best of E3).

Matt has also been an interactive and creative consultant for clients, including James Cameron’s Titanic, the BBC, PBS and The Disney Channel.

The evening will also launch a course on structuring scriptwriting for videogames run by scriptwriting agency International Hobo. For more information on this course please contact Amalie Roberts.

The session and the course are aimed at bringing scriptwriters interested in writing for videogames together with games developers exploring episodic games.

Date: Wednesday 28th October

Registration: 5.30pm

Where: The BBC Club, BBC Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester

Places are very limited so to avoid disappointment register for your place.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Chocolate and Short Stories

Chocolate and Short Stories is the first in a series of one-day workshops which will show you exactly how to write a short story for Bridge House.

Bridge House is a fully fledged new publishing company based in Manchester and specialising in anthologies showcasing both new and established writing talent. For their current submissions opportunities and policies, click here.

Here's what Bridge House had to say about their latest workshop:

Whether a beginner or an experienced writer, you will leave with a good proportion of a story finished. It is also likely to be a story which will fit the Bridge House ethos. There'll also be a chance as well to meet other members of the Bridge House team.

We've gone a bit upmarket this time and are running the workshop at Slatterly's, Whitefield, Manchester. Slatterly's produce wonderful cakes and chocolates, and there will be a chance during the day to browse their tempting display. Your day also includes a good sample of their other food.

The workshop Leader is Gill James, experienced writer and editor, university lecturer in creative writing with over 30 books in print.

The workshop runs from 10am to 4pm on the 19th September.

For more information on the workshop, to book a place, or to find out more about Manchester based Bridge House publishing and Chocolate Stories, click here.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Literary Events Roundup

The Brewery Arts Centre

Spoken Word comes to Solfest this year. There'll be spoken performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoon from Sarah Miller, James Knight, Emma P, Geraldine Green, Annie Clarkson, Dominic Berry, Rod Tame and comperes Ann the Poet and Phill Gregg.

Ann - who we all remember fondly as the guest host at Word Soup 3 - be running a New Lines script writing workshop with Sarah Miller on the Saturday.

The next Apples and Snakes spoken word open mic is at The Brewery, Kendal on Saturday 26th September with guests Annie Moir and Julian Jordan. The workshop that afternoon (4-6pm) will be on poetic forms. Call the Brewery Box Office 01539 725133 to book a place.


Sedbergh, England’s 'Book Town', is holding its fifth Festival of Books and Drama between 18 – 27 September. The theme this year is Travel and Adventure and the wide-ranging programme will feature some great travel writers, adventurers and entrepreneurs in the travel business.

Director Carole Nelson says:

"We're really lucky to have attracted some ‘bonkers people’ - no that’s not the way to describe eminent publishers but it just might be the way to describe someone who walked across Africa!

"So we have a helping of mad but determined adventurers, Mark Ellingham who started Rough Guides, and other travellers of note. We are also very please to have Michael Gray, the authority on Bob Dylan who will be talking about Dylan and the Poetry of the Blues. After all much of the poetry that is part of everyone’s life is written in the form of lyrics and if that’s the case Dylan is a Poet Laureate!"

Local writers are well represented with Chris Wadsworth's new book, Hercules and The Farmer’s Wife, based around Castlegate House Gallery in Cockermouth, and John Rice’s The Atlantic Arc, a creative travelogue resulting from his recent trip to the North Atlantic Islands.

The Literary Trust which develops all of the Festivals and educational activity for the Book Town has just been awarded funding by the Arts Council which will enable the Trust to create more projects in 2010. The Trust will be reaching beyond Sedbergh to the whole of Cumbria with an exciting programme of workshops, events and writing courses.
Information Line and Bookings: 015396 20125
On Line Bookings and Information:

Friday, 21 August 2009

Guest Post: Carol Grant

Today we're publishing a guest post from Carol, who shortly after joining one of Preston's writing groups, Writers' Inc, approached Galloway's to work on a project that involves amateur writers taking their creative work to the community. Here she tells us about her journey from interested amateur to the author of a serial drama that will shortly be recorded by volunteers and broadcast .

I'm a beginner to all this really and a late starter, being 55 years old! I've been writing poetry for a few years now. My poems are on any and every subject and I try to choose themes that reflect every day situations and experiences,using my imagination where need be. Most of them take a few minutes to write.They just pop into my head.

I joined
Preston Poets' Society last September and whilst I enjoy the meetings tremendously, it has made me aware that my poems seem so simple compared to the other poets there. Mine are just poems that you can easily understand. You do not have to struggle to discover the message they convey. I am learning though, that we all have our different styles. I write, I like to think, for the 'ordinary' person, like myself.

In October last year I joined Writers' Inc. This is at present a smaller group than Preston Poets. Very friendly and very encouraging. I went along feeling a bit of a fraud at first, because I wasn't even a writer and I was afraid that it would all be above me. I hoped that my seventeen and a half years working in a bookshop down in Hertfordshire, would stand me in good stead should there be some discussion about books and authors.

The first time that I started to write short stories was in January of this year, prompted by the fact we were set homework by the chairman of Writers' Inc.
Since then I have continued writing and have even dared to read out my efforts at the meetings! Last December I contacted Galloway's Blind Society and offered my services.That is twice a month I go over to their recording studio and with other team members read/record articles for them.

At present I am on the team that reads Farmers Guardian.
Despite the title it is not at all boring. Every time we go in we learn something new about the farming world. Whether it's a brilliant new way to muck spread or how much a two year old rampant bull would set you back. ( quite a bit I have learnt!) One of the ladies from Writers' Inc, not knowing that I went there, suggested very kindly that it would be nice if we could go over to Galloway's with the idea to perhaps start a creative writing group with some of the people that use the facilities there. Also that we offered them some of the short stories and/or articles that we have written.

James,the producer of
Lancashire Eye was very pleased to accept this offer and during a meeting with him, he asked if it would be possible to write a soap opera? (I much prefer the term, serial drama. It sounds more up market!) This was very exciting news to my ears.What a brilliant idea! What a fantastic challenge!

Any one that knows me,will know that if an idea is put into my head,then I just have to get on and do it straight away. I'm one of those people who wants things fast. Like yesterday. So I've already written three episodes and had them read by James at Galloway's and by Linda at Writers' Inc. Both of whom have given their seal of approval. Linda reads them straight after I've written each episode and always gives me sound advice and helpful comments, which are very much appreciated.

We expect to start recording the first few episodes very soon. I also am about to start going over to Galloway's to record some articles written by other members of our group. I would love one day to get a collection of my short stories or even a novel published, but that may never happen. I can only imagine and dream.

If you'd like more information about Writers' Inc, please contact Carol direct at - PrestonWN wrote a little bit about their activities in this previous post.

PrestonWN is always interested in hearing from her (his? its?) readers: if you have a story, group or event you'd like us to feature, or you'd like to write something for us yourself, please get in touch.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Succour Magazine submissions

From Max Dunbar, Regional Editor at Succour Magazine:

For this issue, we’re interested in work that takes the everyday or the commonplace as its subject, considers the nature of boredom, or indeed that questions what we think of as banal. You may also like to consider The Banal as a counterpart to Fantasies (the S/S 2009 issue), in that the fantastical tends to emerge from, or be contained within, the banal.

But as ever, feel free to interpret the theme in any way you like.

The deadline for submissions to The Banal is Friday 21 August.

Please send your work in Word or Rich Text format documents, with a limit of 5000 words (fiction) or 250 lines (poetry). We do not accept submissions by post. We do not offer payment for contributions that come through open submissions, but all contributors will receive two complimentary copies of the journal in which their work is printed, and an invitation to read at one of the Succour Salons which accompany the launch of each issue.

The editors will do their best to acknowledge any submissions within two weeks, and to give a final decision within five weeks of the submission deadline.

Please do not submit work that has been published elsewhere (including online) or that is under consideration by other journals.

And finally… please put the word ‘submission’ and the title of the issue to which you are submitting (ie ‘The Banal’) somewhere in the subject field of your submission email.

The editors welcome comment and questions on any subject.

Send all work to:

Monday, 17 August 2009

Performance Wordshops

Ron Baker from Lancaster Spotlight has just got in touch with an opportunity that would be ideal for all you Word Soup open-mikers to-be (and there's a mouthful...)

On September 18th at The Storey Creative Industries Centre, Ruth Quinn will be holding a Performance Skills Workshop.

Ruth is an experienced drama, theatre and acting teacher and has been assisting people to get the best out of their performances for over eighteen years. She's also a poet in her own right, and has a particular interest in helping people perform their poetry.

The workshop runs from 2.30pm - 4.30pm and costs £5. If you want to book, email and tell them we sent you...

Friday, 14 August 2009

WANTED: Poets/Writers With Podcasts on You Tube

Over the next few months IncWriters is looking for poets and writers who have recorded their poems and fiction for You Tube. The best of these will be selected for Incwriters Poem/Fiction of the week. To enter, send the links to your work to

the link for IncWriters blog and forum is

NEWS: Groups on Facebook

If you're a Facebook user you can now join the new look BRITISH POETRY NETWORK:


Monday, 10 August 2009

Philippa Gregory to vist Preston

Philippa Gregory will be visiting Preston as part of a national book tour arranged to launch her new novel: The White Queen.

She'll be appearing at the County Hall Council Chambers Preston on the evening of 20th August to talk about her latest novel and answer questions from the audience.

Philippa’s ability to evoke a sense of period and her strong characterisation have meant her books have been adapted for the small and large screen. The White Queen marks the start of a trilogy set during the War of the Roses and so has special resonance for readers in Lancashire. The next event on Philippa's tour will be held in York... is this a modern day War of the Roses?

About The White Queen:

The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of The War of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this family drama to colourful life through its women, beginning with the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen
tells the story of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the success of her family, a woman whose two sons become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower whose fate remains unknown to this day.

From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores the most famous unsolved mystery, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills

Tickets are priced at £5.00 each and are redeemable against the price of the book on the evening which Philippa will be happy to sign.The event starts at 7.30pm. For further details or to book tickets please contact SilverDell Bookshop, who is hosting the event in partnership with Lancashire Library and Information Service.

telephone: 01772 683 444

For more about Philippa Gregory, vist her website.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Guest Post: Norman Hadley

Today's post is a guest piece from Garstang-based poet and author Norman Hadley. The PrestonWN regulars amongst you will know Norman as one of our star performers at Word Soup # 4. This post was first published on The Lunacy Review.

Were you read to as a child? Magic, wasn’t it? And on the rare occasion when you have the opportunity to recreate that sublime enchantment, you take it, don’t you? Whether it be an audio book in the car or a sneaky listen as a nephew or niece is escorted off to bed.

Dominic Kelly is a professional. Storyteller, that is. He has a business card that says “Storyteller” to prove it. On a sunny afternoon in August he gave a master class in the art in the gardens of Samlesbury Hall. Fear not if that is outside your parish as his home port is Yealand Redmayne near Carnforth.

Dominic Kelly

Lavishly sideburned, waistcoated and wielding a pewter tankard, he looked fit to shoulder centuries of bardic tradition, although he confessed the tankard was charged with nothing more exotic than Adam’s ale. Reciting long tales from memory, he soon whisked his audience off into worlds where all princes were noble, all maidens had long tumbling tresses and vengeful giants marauded the midge-infested marshes. But these tales had levels of complexity, recursions and twists that could satisfy the older members of the audience. For two hour-long stints, he held tot and codger alike spellbound with his consummate pacing, phrasing and inflection.

Here was a man utterly in command of his craft. Each tale was preceded by an eccentric call-and-response routine whereby he would shout “socks” and the audience would bellow ” boots”. This was the vital contract between narrator and listener – the granting of access to monkey around in your mind. He could handle deft shifts of mood from humour to pathos to deadly drama. Agile on his feet, pacing from side to side like a weasel bewitching a rabbit, he stopped the clocks and invited us to soar on ravens’ backs over crumpled rugs of hills.

And I say “boots.”

Dominic does festivals, school readings. Check out his site

Friday, 7 August 2009

Getting Started With Your Novel

The next in the series of the Preston Writing Network's summer creative writing courses is Getting Started with Your Novel - a day-long workshop held at the New Continental, Broadgate. The course starts at 10am on August 22nd and finishes at 4pm: there'll be an hour for lunch and morning refreshments will be provided.

Have an idea but not sure if it’s got legs? Written the first page, first chapter, or first half and not sure where to go next? Having trouble deciding if your idea is for a novel, a story, or something else? Writing is a lonely business. Perhaps you want to develop a plan for an extended piece of work, or talk to others about how to create your own writing discipline. A reflective day with discussion, practical exercises and tips. Some writing experience needed, but enthusiasm and an idea for a novel (however vague) is essential. £35 per person. 20 people maximum.

To book, call Robyn on 01772 499207 or email For more details on the Creative Writing Summer School, click here.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Extra! Free stuff!

Here's value for money... two free appearances from recent Word Soup performers to get you through the day.

If you were daft enough to miss the very wonderful Word Soup # 4, then you must go here and read one of the performed pieces from satirist, blogger and PrestonWN volunteer Richard Hirst: a very special extract from Nick Griffin's Diary.

And to see Norman Hadley, poet, mathematician, engine builder and another of our Word Soup #4 performers read some more of his work, in person, on your very own computer screen, click here.

And don't say we never give you nothing.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Word Soup 4

Word Soup is Preston’s live lit night and this month’s was bigger than ever. Not only was it part of Preston Tringe Festival and recorded for Preston FM and Diversity FM, but it had the biggest turn out so far.

If you weren’t able to make it, here’s what you missed...

The night kicked off with Sally Murray, a musician from Manchester, who wowed the crowd with her beautiful voice and chilled out songs. And when there was a sound issue, she proved to be that rarest of things- a muso with a sense of humour.

First reader of the night was Richard Hulse, a teetotal short fiction writer, who started the evening’s tenuous connections to the booze theme. His funny and original short story charted a man’s brand new relationship, jealousy and break up in the minutes it takes him, and his new girlfriend, to fall to their deaths from a plane crash.

Next was Simon Baker, a teacher and compere of Lancaster Spotlight Club, who read a gritty and angry piece about life in a small town and a night out from hell. His odious protagonist eventually met his match in an equally small town bouncer.

Tim Woodall, a fiction and non fiction writer who claims he writes self obsessed stories around exactly the same themes (his words not mine), read a piece called booze. It featured a journalist with alcoholic tendencies walking through Soho.After the break, Jenn Ashworth, compère extraordinaire in shiny shiny shoes, introduced the second half of the night and the return of the three minute open mic slots.

The brave open mic slot readers were:
* Max Henry, who read Win Them and Wear. He blogs at Tell Me Again About Typhoon Patsy.
* Chris Billington, who read her poetry based on Greek myths and cider. She is an active member of Preston Poets.
* Cynthia Kitchen, who read three poems based on booze and a recovering alcoholic.
* Peter Crompton, read poetry on the theme of booze and violence. Stood out for being a passionate and stand out performer and writes here.
* Terry Quinn, who read his piece, The Asylum seeker. He also works for Preston FM and blogs at Broadgate Is Great.

Mollie Baxter couldn’t make the event but Norman Hadley from Garstang read in her place. He read Poets Anonymous from his third collection, Perspectives. He also read a poem about diving through a sunken village which he read entirely from memory. This really impressed and marked him out as one of the evening's most engaging performers.

Richard Hirst, author of previous Word Soup success, Dear Millipede, and blog I thought I told you to wait in the car provided free postcard artwork for the event and read a piece about the leader of the BNP being captured by slug moles and having to live underground digging tunnels. It was every bit as surreal as it sounds, as funny as his last outing and I’m sure will not be his last.

The final performer of the night was star guest, Nicholas Royle, writer, critic, and blogger who read from his upcoming novel. The first section dealt with airline conspiracy stories and whether the brace position actually works. The second section twisted to become a post modern discussion of the the first in a Manchester Lit Event.

Let us know if you were at Word Soup on Tuesday in the comments box below and what you thought of it.

There is no Word Soup next month because it is the holidays, however it will be back in September. If you are interested in performing in one of the three minute open mic slots email

All photos have been supplied by James Brunton, 23rd Parallel

This blog was written by Mel who blogs at What do you do in Preston.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Helena Pielichaty to visit Preston

Helena Pielichaty is the author of over twenty-five books for children, including the award-winning Simone series and the best selling Clubbing Together. On wednesday 5th August, between 2 - 3pm Helena will be at the National Football Museum to talk about her exciting new series, Girls FC.

Based around the Parrs U11s, Girls FC explores the world of girls' football in a twelve-book series that is aimed at 8-11 year olds. The series is released on the 3rd August with the first four books. Here's what Helena had to say about the series on her website:

Based around an U11s girls’ football team, the Parrs, the
series is a mix of my usual reality-bites-but-with-laughs story-lines. It kicks off with 9 year old football mad Megan Fawcett. All she wants is to get five minutes on the pitch for her school team but Mr Glasshouse, headmaster and coach, believes only the Y5s and Y6s should play in the first team. He barely notices her, even when she wears fairy wings and a tiara to training. So, after a chance meeting with Hannah Preston from the senior women’s squad, Megan starts her own team. A team just for girls; some from school, some from after school club and one from Lornton FC’s ground caught nicking stuff from the changing rooms!

As well as participating in the launch and having the chance to meet and talk
to the author, you'll be able to have a tour of the museum, watch a female
football freestyler in action and take part in the 'Goal-Striker' penalty
shoot-out. Helena will be signing books and you can find out more about her and
her writing life here.

The National Football Museum is on Sir Tom Finney Way, Preston and this looks to be a great afternoon out for younger PrestonWNers or their children! Places
are limited - to secure a place please email