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December 31st, 2009

Well, did you take my advice about how to have an argument-free Christmas Day?  I suspect that if you did, you’re family probably aren’t speaking to you at the moment.  Depending on how you feel about that, it could be either a blessing or a curse.

Joking apart, I do enjoy the Christmas/New Year break – but sometimes it just gets a bit too much and I feel the need to escape.  This year it was a bracing coastal walk in Anglesey and a night’s accommodation within sound of the sea.  Great for re-charging the batteries!

So, what’s on offer for 2010?  There’s eNovella, a new social networking site for writers and poets.  You can share your work and get constructive feedback from the community or just read what’s on offer if you’re not already a writer.

There’s also the Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger competition for new writers sponsored by Orion Publishing.  The shortlisted entries are circulated to leading editors and agents; so it’s an excellent way to avoid the slush-pile.  Entry is open to anyone who hasn’t already had a novel published and the closing date is 6 February 2010.  More details and an entry form are available at The CWA

And don’t forget our very own E-zee Writer.  Each month it’s full of useful information for writers – and it’s free whether you’re a student of the Writers Bureau or not.

Finally, before we leave Christmas behind for another year, did any of you read Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, The Twelve days of Christmas? If you did, I’d be interested to know what you thought.  For me, some parts worked – others definitely didn’t.

So, all that remains is for me to caution you in true government fashion against imbibing too many units of alcohol tonight – and to wish you a productive and prosperous New Year.




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Christmas – a busy time

December 24th, 2009

Well, Christmas is almost upon us and one member of the Legg household is busy.

I am just coming up on deadline for my book, Folklore of Hampshire, which will be published by The History Press in July 2010.  I am finishing the book, making sure that all is well and the photographs, several of which I have taken myself, are complete.  It has to be with the publisher by 5th January.

Some of you may know that I edit The Woman Writer magazine for the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists.  This publication will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2010 and the January edition copy deadline was 7th December.  I have to have the copy laid out and with the Sub-Editor by 28th December.  I had 126 emails by deadline, mostly with submissions or information towards articles I intend to write for the edition.  It will take me about a week to lay it out and get it ready for proofing.

In the meantime, the editor of a magazine called today and asked for an article to go into her April edition.  I have been working on it off and on for a little while, with no deadline.  I was going to go back to retake the photographs of the interviewee’s garden in the spring, when the garden was looking better than the storm battered wreck it was in September when I last saw her.  Now I will restructure the article around what I can salvage of the photographs and re-write with a change of emphasis.  I have time, two days.

Finally, I need to find a new permanent home for the Writing Buddies, who are homeless now Borders are shutting.  No peace for the wicked!

Merry Christmas everyone.  Happy Writing!

Penny Legg




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Writers Bureau tutors revealed!

December 18th, 2009

When we had our tutors’ annual meeting in October we took the opportunity to make short film clips of some of them talking about their writing – these are now available on our website.

There’s Simon Whaley talking about non-fiction writing; Alison Chisholm discussing poetry; Lorraine Mace explaining how to put humour into your writing and Stephanie Baudet giving tips on writing picture books for children.  They’re all different – but all equally interesting and informative.

I’ve decided that every few weeks I’m going to ask one of our tutors to do a guest blog – at least you’ll get a break from my witterings!  So, next week it’s the turn of Penny Legg.  Penny is also one of our tutors and fits this between her own writing and editing ‘The Woman Writer’ the magazine of The Society of Women Writers and Journalists.

So, all that remains is for me to wish you a very happy Christmas.  But before I leave you, bear in mind the results of a recent survey suggesting that the average time for the first row to start in homes around the country on Christmas Day is 9.58am.  So, be prepared!  Make sure you’ve put a few good books on our Christmas list. And as soon as the present opening is over – even before the wrapping paper has been disposed of – head for the smallest room in the house with your stash of books and lock yourself in.  By doing this there’s a chance you will still be speaking to your loved ones by the time Dr Who comes on the TV and you may even enjoy Christmas day.  Bah humbug to you all!




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A rose by any other name…

December 11th, 2009

So what do you think about “meshing”?  Until last week, if you’d said the word to me I’d probably have connected it with gears or gone off on a flight of fancy concerning barbed wire and bondage (let’s not even go there…)  But now all is revealed.  Apparently, it’s when a couple get married and combine their surnames into a new name rather than the bride taking the groom’s name or them joining to form a double-barrelled affair.

My maiden name was Bertwistle (I know… not the easiest name to live with).  So, a double-barrelled name wasn’t really an option.  Nadin-Bertwistle does sound rather like a mittel-European royal dynasty.  So what do you get when you mesh?  Nadbert! Somehow, I think I’ll be sticking with my husband’s surname for the foreseeable future.  But if I do decide to change into a Nadbert, you’ll be the first to know!

And now on to more sensible things.  If you suspect one of your New Year resolutions will be to spend more time on your writing (link to home page) then what better motivation than to visit the Arts and Book Festival in Cumbria.  Not only will you get chance to listen to the experts but you can work off the excesses of the festive season by yomping on the fells in your spare time. Mens sane in corpore sana!

And finally, check out The Professional Writing Research Portal.  It’s been set up by staff on University College Falmouth’s MA in Professional Writing course and covers a wide range of information for both new and experienced writers.

So until next time…




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The Writers Bureau 21st Birthday celebration!

December 4th, 2009

Next year it will be 21 years since the Writers Bureau was launched (no comment here about how old that makes me feel!) and we’ll be holding all kinds of exciting competitions and events to celebrate.

We’ll keep you posted on our website but when anything specific is imminent I’ll let you know so that you can join in.

Anyone who’s seriously considering a career as a writer should join the Society of Authors.  You do already need to have some success under your belt, although self-publishers are eligible.  But the good thing is that as soon as you are offered a contract you can join and the Society will then vet the contract for you and highlight any potential pitfalls.

The site has lots of useful information and has just introduced a new ‘rates and guidelines’ page giving some idea of what writers can realistically expect to earn.

Do you ever throw books away?  If you’re like me, you don’t – it’s a sin!  So, you end up sending them to charity shops or forcing them on friends.  So why not try BookCrossing.  It’s the practice of leaving a book you’ve read for someone else to find by following your online directions.  Apparently, over 800,000 people around the world are now doing it – so it could also give you the chance to make some new reading buddies.

And finally, if you‘re a Writers Bureau student, don’t forget our Writer of the Year Award with its £250 prize.  The closing date is 31st December, so you’d better get your skates on.




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