Important Announcement from ‘Pens or Erdington’

You may be aware of the changes that are happening in the Birmingham Library Services in recent months, unfortunately, these are also effecting the Library of Erdington where Pens currently meet.

♦   Although not all the plans are known yet, one thing that we do know is that, because of these changes, we are having to move out meeting day to a Tuesday for the time being. The next regular Pens meeting will now be on TUESDAY the 4th April, still in the Community Room and still starting at 1.00pm ’till 3.00pm and still the comfort of tea and biscuits.

♦   As a group, we are having to look at other aspects of how we work, including, frequency, finances, and possibly other venues sometimes, but, these matters are not yet finalised but we will let everyone involved know as soon as we can.

♦   Please don’t think that this is the end of the group, NO! In recent years, we have gained so many new members with amazing creative work, we intend to continue this growth and development and, as our much-loved leader often says, ‘go forward bravely’.

♦   Please watch your in-box for further updates via email and also ‘Follow’ the website at the top of this page for the latest News as it happens.

Thank you all

Jude and David

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The Benefits of Joining a Writers Group

A Writer's Path

by Cynthia Hilston

There it was for probably the hundredth time on the sign outside my local library: writers group, meeting 8/18 2-4:00 PM.  Okay, maybe not the hundredth time, but how many times did I drive past the library, which is about two point five miles from my house, and see that group advertised and not do a darn thing?  The sign was one of those LED types that showed all the happenings at the library, from book discussion groups to story times for children.  And my library had a writers group.

Of course, every time I saw that sign, I wondered, What do they do at those meetings?  Do they just sit there and write?  Do writing exercises?  Or do they read each other’s work while there and comment on it?

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Pens meeting report 01 August 2017

This meeting, although a little impromptu, was a fascinating and diverse collection of creativity as you will find anywhere in this earth. I do not exaggerate!

Although it had the heading of a General Sharing meeting, we were all delighted with theWP_20170718_11_54_37_Pro work, much of it based on the observations and pleasures taken from the Pens outing a few weeks ago; (click here to see the blog).

But, given the single, shared event, the range of perspective’s taken by writers meant that there were no two pieces remotely alike and yet all took the heart and essence of the place and the people and diversity within that one hour on the water.

  • History, in a story of one character that started in 1940 and finished in 2017.
  • Observation, in the outwardly trivial things that not all the travellers noticed.
  • Essence, the integration of the elements that make up this mesmerising world.
  • Poetry, the light and shade of nature and industry, pleasure, and hard labour.
  • Memory, of time spent close to the canal, when it was the only thing you could see from a window.

Other subjects for the afternoon included, the fictional but fascinating tales of historical figures bought together in some ethereal time and space; their trip this time was to the Vatican to see the Pope. You must hear it to believe it!

A short story about a refugee boy on a boat seemed to move many, both for his plight but also the promise of a safe life.

And from a writer that didn’t think she could write, her poetry that, even in its infant stages has so, much promise and depth, we can’t wait for the finished piece.

Great critique was given throughout the meeting and we thank all members for that, it makes a world of difference for both fledgling and experienced writers alike.


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3 Things That Make a Great 1st Line

A Writer's Path

by Morgan S. Hazelwood

The title of this sounds pretty lofty, doesn’t it? For those of you who don’t have a finished manuscript, though, this might not be so useful. Write your novel, edit it, then see if you can cut the first chapter. Don’t count the writing as a waste, YOU needed to know what was going on so you could write the rest of the book. Then, it’s time to tweak that 1st line.

The first line of a novel has a lot of work to do.

At Balticon51, I attended one workshop on opening sentences with Steve Lubs and another on opening pages with Meg Eden. This is a lot of what they said, combined with knowledge from other places. (I tried not to copy their hand-outs directly.)

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Do We Need to Write a Consequence for Every Action?

A Writer's Path

by Jean M. Cogdell

A reaction for every action? Large or small?

The short answer is yes. I think so.
Once I grasp this concept, things began going a little smoother. Now in each scene, I stop and ask what will the characters consequence be for each action.

Even the smallest of decisions can move a story forward. For instance, stopping to buy a coffee can result in meeting the right or wrong person. Turning left instead of right can result in an accident or a chance meeting. See. Each decision your character makes must have a consequence sooner or later to drive the story to the end.

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Everything That Will Tempt You to Quit Writing–and How to Deal with It

A Writer's Path

by Meg Dowell

Pursuing a career in writing comes with plenty of obstacles. Overcoming those obstacles — especially when your barriers involve other people — can be overwhelming. The stress of trying to Make Writing Happen can be draining enough to force you to consider quitting. Even though you shouldn’t!

Here are a few things that will, or have already, almost convince you to stop writing — and how not to let them bring you down.

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Getting Yourself to Write

A Writer's Path

by Shelley Widhalm

Writing can be a struggle for writers of all levels, from beginning to professional.

The struggle has a dreaded name: writer’s block.

Writer’s block refers to not being able to write while facing the blank page or the middle of a project. It can be a matter of losing the inspiration or motivation to write, or not having the time and space.

Maybe the writer wants to write but does not know what to say or how to say it. Or the writer does not have anything new to think about or ways to describe things.

Or, could it be a matter of the writer not knowing where to go next?

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What Can You Write in 15 Minutes?

A Writer's Path

by Kelsie Engen

Writers can mostly agree that writing is a time consuming process. You write a first draft, step back, revise into a second draft, send out for feedback (beta readers or developmental editor), receive and revise, send for final edits, then finally submit and (possibly change) and then publish. Whew. I get tired just writing that list.

Then factor in this: Some authors spend a decade or more writing and perfecting their novels.

So…what can you possibly do in 15 minutes?

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Pens Annual Outing – 2017

The Canals of Birmingham

A sunny day helped to give everyone a very sunny disposition for the outing. All 12 of us arrived well in time for our outing from Brindley Place. Although we are all from the area and there is always something new to see in ever Birmingham, today we chose some of the oldest parts to see instead.

Boarding the narrow boat at noon sharp, the captain was very accommodating for those less able, and we were pleased not to leave anyone out this year. Setting off South, past the mailbox and sharp right towards Edgbaston, an informative and pleasant commentary pointed out many of the historical pints of interest and the background to the development of the canals in general.

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The one-hour round trip was excellent value, not too long, not too short, and we arrived back in time for a long lunch and refreshments at the Tap and Spile, one of the many hostelries at the canal’s edge. It was really good to share our thoughts and ideas, as well as general conversation with the group, not always easy at the regular meetings.

The small task set for the day based on the four elements, should have been easily accomplished with such wonderful surroundings, and we look forward to hearing the inspired writings at a future meeting.

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How to Instantly Add Depth to Your Story

A Writer's Path

by Kathryn

Write What You FEEL

Because of reasons, I’m going to dive back into the importance of “show, not tell”.

What are the reasons? Well, I’m not going to talk about it because I don’t want to traumatize my readership, but if you hop on to my Twitter and scroll back a few days, you’ll see some nooooooooooo gifs with the hashtag #AllTheBoats.

That’s my vague reaction to what I was suffering through, and what inspired me to draft this post.


Moving on.

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Hooking the Reader with a Killer Opening to Your Book

A Writer's Path

by Helena Fairfax

This is another topic that has made me take a good look at my own writing. My first thought is that it’s vital to have an opening that hooks the reader. Some people say a killer opening is even more important now, since online stores like Amazon have a facility to “Look inside” the book, or to download the first few pages as a sample.

They say readers have too much choice and a short attention span, and we have to be hooked immediately or you lose us. But I think back to the days when there was no Amazon and I could only obtain books from bookshops or libraries. I used to do exactly the same thing before choosing a book – check out the blurb, and then have a read of the opening to see if it grabbed me. If I wasn’t hooked, I put the book back.

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