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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Pens Meeting Report 17 July 2018

This meeting was to be the creative thoughts from the outing to Dudley Castle and Zoo a few weeks ago. You couldn’t have easily predicted the diversity of those thoughts, unless you knew the members who shared them as well as we do.

It was the general consensus that it was a great day out, not wholly because of the venue which raised many issues for people, but imaginations were stirred and the wide variety of ideas and thoughts were as follows:

  • Val in absentia, shared a well-researched and comprehensive story of the involvement of the residents of Dudley Castle and the connections to Sutton Coldfield near where the group meets of course. The intricacies and double dealings of the monarchy and church were beautifully woven into the tale of one man’s ordinary life.
  • Elizabeth gave a full and factual account of the day in an article style that could grace any magazine or paper, well done.
  • Mike wove his interest of all things in the mind, around the historic ruins of the castle to intrigue us and stimulate the brain, all really fascinating stuff.
  • Ann also write in a reporting style but included many historical, ghostly and zoological asides which brought the day alive in listeners minds.
  • Irene, who was unable to join in the expedition, never-the-less recounted a visit purely from her imagination and fifty-year-old memories. It was amazingly accurate and the inclusion of those that did go, made it almost as if she had been spying on us.
  • Nori had constructed a more fantastical, or was it a more realistic view of the surrounding and venue’s management. I considered piece which had as many questions as answers; a good sign in a written piece.
  • Jude enthralled us with a skilful poem on the sadness of animal collections which had, within its rhythm and metre, much to make you think of the absurdity of such things.
  • David recounted his view of the day with snippets of the good the bad and the unfortunately ugly which had caught his eye around the hilly estate. Read Here

All the articles stimulated great discussion on both the subject matter and questions raised. Wonderful as ever!

Next Meeting 7 August as this is a five Tuesday month remember!


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The Odds of Advertising Your Book

A Writer's Path

by Richard Risemberg

This is the way it is: if your book does not enjoy extensive publicity, it will not sell.

This is not a hard and fast rule, as miracles do happen through word of mouth, but the odds favor ads in this word of white noise that we live in. Sure, Moby Dick is a classic now, but it was a flop in Melville’s lifetime, even though he had already published two bestsellers!

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Why You Should Rewrite and Not Edit

A Writer's Path

by Teagan Berry

Congratulations. You’ve just finished a novel. You’ve taken some time to decompress and relax, away from the world of writing, but now you need to dive in and start getting your piece ready for publication.

The first edit. That’s a term I’ve mentioned before, even written a whole post about it. Though looking back on the process I went through then, I should have probably titled that blog post The First Rewrite. Because when it comes down to it, that’s what it really was.

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A Good Idea Isn’t Always Good Enough

A Writer's Path

by Meg Dowell

There’s more to an idea than just a thought process.

Before I rebranded this blog in 2015, I thought long and hard about a name and tagline. Finally realizing I wanted this to be an informational and inspirational hub for writers to Do All The Writing Things — and not just me talking about myself all the time, ugh — helped me create my blog’s simultaneous tagline and purpose statement:

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Pens Summer Outing 2018

The heat of the previous weeks was both a blessing and a disappointment for our trip. ‘Why’, I here you think?

The joy of public transport bought the ten of us together and then whisked us way out West and the delights of Dudley.

The long twisting journey through the multicultural suburbs was helped by conversation stimulated by both reminiscences of, and hopes for the city. Eventually, the towering ruins of the castle appeared proudly flying the cross of St George against the clear azure blue of the summer sky.

Despite knowing that the venue was not the pinnacle of Zoological exhibits, we hoped Dudley_Zoo_entrance,_pic_2,_Englandthat the combination of the castle ruins with its rich history, would give the visit something for everyone.

The steep ascent to the main attractions could be by a slow but long walk, although for those that could, we took the chair-lift; personally, I closed my eyes and grittZoo07ed my teeth as I’m not good at heights or rather the drops into the baboons below!

Once at the top, it became obvious that the heat would play against us for the Zoo06appreciation of the wildlife; you forst had to find it to appreciate it. Overhearing that most of the animal activity came around dusk didn’t help, but we pressed on although it was clear that there would a game of ‘spot the animal’ in most enclosures.

Having broken up into smaller groups, progresses was at various paces to suit each and we didn’t all meet up again until lunch-time at the top of the hill.

This was the closest encounter with any of the residents and the displaying Peacock was a spectacular backdrop for a bite to eat and a much-needed drink. Topped off by ice-cream for most, lunchtime chat was fascinating as usual.Zoo02

Lemur walkThe afternoon bought out a few more animals which improved the interest and, for those who reached the top and the castle ruins, its rich history punctuated with mice and ratZoo04displays to accentuate the delights of living at the zenith of its age.

Zoo05A final gathering for those who had not already had to leave us, had a shared drink and welcome sit down.

Sealion feeding nextZoo08 to the picnic area was short but at least a degree of action from the residents of the pool.

A last downhill stroll saw various exhibits with the cute and the not so homely, again with most taking shade from the still intense sun. With the required exit through the gift shop, merchandise was perused, picked up and mostly put down again but with the odd purchase, the bus stop was calling us home and those that were left, left.

A hot and equally long alternative route home brought us back to the city centre and departure on to our various homes.

There was lots to consider if you are a conservationist or a historian with both positive and questionable thoughts bought to the fore, all of which we hope will stimulate the group in one of the  aims for the day, to be inspired to write.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the day.

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How To Become a Professional Author

A Writer's Path

by Laura Peters

Becoming an established author is easier today than it has ever been in the past. That is thanks to services like Createspace and Lightning Source that enable anyone with the skills to self-publish their work in a print-on-demand format.

However, getting your books onto Amazon doesn’t guarantee anyone will buy or read your stories. With that in mind, this article will provide you with a short step-by-step guide you can use to ensure you get the best results from your efforts.

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When You Begin Writing After a Long Break

A Writer's Path

by Lindsey Richardson

Let’s talk about the 7 month break I took from writing. That’s right… 7 months. It was my longest to date break from writing. And the break happened for several reasons. The kind of reasons where I just didn’t have the proper inspiration or passion to write.

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How to Write an Effective Chase Scene

A Writer's Path

by Doug Lewars

Either a villain is fleeing from the forces of law-and-order or your hero is fleeing from overwhelming danger, but in either case you need a chase scene. Any form of transportation can be used and the overall structure of the narrative will be reasonably uniform although the specifics will change in each case.

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Pens Meeting Report 19 June 2018

 With a simple theme of ‘Summer’, who would have thought that the season would fill the room as wonderfully as it did today!

light nature sky sunset

Summer – such a simple word but here, is was skilfully drawn into a host of different material; beautiful, funny, inspiring, shocking, poetic, poignant, we had it all today.

  • The Summer heat of Nepal, was heightened with a recounting of the murder of the Royal family and the ensuing civil unrest at the disastrous news as described by Val with her usual eloquent delivery.
  • Another Summer Holiday tale involved mostly a spouse’s falling over everywhere, fortunately sustaining only minor injuries, not funny on the surface, but hilarious when you know that background of those involved. We feel for you Irene!
  • A poem of Love which could be shared well on a Summer’s evening, we hope it will be well received.
  • A piece of Prose Poetry beautifully encapsulated the rigors of travelling alone, but also the positives that can be found if you just look for them, Christine is certainly proving that the pen can be mightier than the sword!
  • The State of Summer can really last as long as you want it to, if you have the right outlook on life and indeed this author certainly has! Thank you Elizabeth.
  • The Summer Solstice was at the heart of a well-crafted poem from Shareen. This was followed by a beautifully described idyllic scene in the Spanish Islands that was rocked by the front page local news of an amateur heist of the village launderette!
  • A review of Summer time events in a poem from David was well received.
  • An ethereal body encapsulating the spirit of Summer was floated out exquisitely by Jude to the avid listeners.

With time to spare, the summer theme was stretched a little for a second round of sharing, but flexibility is good.

  • Elizabeth delighted us with pieces that included a mythical ‘Mugwamp’ in the Isle of Mull and a piece of Crazy Paving cemented into a clever ‘graphical’ poem.
  • Christine shared more of her daily thoughts and concerns around heath issues set out in a piece of cathartic writing which moved everyone in one way of another.
  • Irene rounded off the proceedings with a piece of fun set in transformative if fictional moonlight.

Thanks were offered to all participants for their contributions and comments.


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When to Show and When to Tell

A Writer's Path

by Kyle Massa

Show, don’t tell.

If you’ve ever taken a writing course of any kind, you’ve probably heard that phrase.

If you haven’t, the meaning is pretty simple: don’t come out and tell your readers everything they need to know. Instead, show them examples and specific situations that support what you’re trying to say. Doing so often solidifies your points a little better than straight telling.

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