The PowWow Festival of Writing 2017

By Dave Edwards

On the 7th May 2017, the Oldbury Writing Group attended the sixth annual PowWow Festival of Writing, at The Prince of Wales pub, Moseley.

We spent a thoroughly stimulating, thought-provoking day, in the company of the great and the good of the literary/publishing world, (including, Arifa Akbar, Roz Morris, Jennifer Hewson, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, Stewart Home, Sam Mills, Alex Wheatle and last, but most definitely not least, Joanne Harris). We listened to some invaluable advice on the subject of publishing, (taking the first tentative baby steps on the icy literary road!). We also heard about publishing from an agent’s perspective, (Their likes and dislikes, and their general experiences).

Of especial interest to this writer, was the ‘Whatever Happened to the Avant-Garde’ slot, which concentrated on the innovative, boundary-pushing, ground-breaking, anti-mainstream, unconventional area of literature. (The metaphorical two-finger saluters and window-pane shatterers).

The day culminated at the court of Joanne Harris, writer par excellence and a gifted raconteur to boot.

Many thanks to the director of the PowWow Festival of Writing, Charlie Hill, Arts Council England, The management and staff at the Prince of Wales pub, and the charming avian orchestra, (providing birdsong throughout the day).

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From Sunrise to Sunset Book Launch and Tour

By Nicole J. Simms

From Sunrise to Sunset by Oldbury Writing Group

After years of hard work, our World War Two anthology titled From Sunrise to Sunset will be released on 10th April 2017. We will then launch our book on 22nd April 2017 at the Oldbury Library, see our Book Launch page for more details. And following the book launch, we will be going on a book tour across the West Midlands, see our Book Tour page for further details.

This is an exciting time for our group. While it won’t be the first time that we have done book readings from our book, for many of us, it will be the first time we have taken part in a book launch and book tour. So while nerve-wracking, it’s a great opportunity for the writers in our group.

The main goal of the book is to help raise money for our Oldbury Writing Group fund. This fund allows everyone to have the same opportunities to go to events and trips, such as the Pow Wow Festival, and Dudley Library’s Writers Networking Morning. So we hope that if this book sells well, then we will be able to continue helping those who need the help.

As well as raising money for the OWG fund, our book launch and tour will help encourage our members to step outside of their comfort zone. Reading out your work in public can be terrifying for most writers, but it’s something we all must get used to if we want people to read our work. Also, this book has allowed us to learn how to market and promote a book, which is a useful skill for any writer to have. This side of publishing isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.

The one thing I’ve learnt from contributing to this book is that you never know what you’ll capable of until you try.

I’m so proud of the book, and I hope that everyone who reads it will love it too.

Oldbury Writing Group’s Book Tour – The Wives Methodist Group

By Dave Edwards

On the 7th February 2017, the Oldbury Writing Group attended the Wednesbury Central Methodist Church, where we performed a recital of stories and poems from our forthcoming World War Two anthology titled ‘From Sunrise to Sunset’.

The packed and captivated audience consisted of members of The Wives Methodist Group, who showed an obvious enthusiasm for our work, which was reflected in the lively question and answer session post recital.

The ladies politely pumped us for information apropos of the reasoning and motivation for writing our book, resulting in an absorbing debate vis-à-vis World War Two and various aspects of war in general.

It was definitely a mutually rewarding evening for all concerned. Many thanks to the ladies of The Wives Methodist Group.

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Oldbury Writing Group at Sutton Coldfield’s Cancer Support Centre

By Angela L. Garratt

On the 21st January 2017, the Sutton Coldfield cancer support centre held a wellbeing day, of which we were asked to conduct a writing workshop. We did so on the theme of Flash Fiction. Although we only had a few people come to our workshop shop, the Oldbury Writing Group can rest assured that we helped and contributed to a much bigger day which consisted of over 400 people and the centre raised over £500.

The day itself consisted of a women’s choir, a snippet of the scouts Gang Show, market stalls, an art exhibition from creative Walsall, the launch of Ian Henry’s book, A Scout on a Bike, The Miracle of St. James, and refreshments.

Also present was Sutton Coldfield’s Local newspaper, for which the OWG was photographed.

One of the people that came to our workshop, which ended up being more like a centre for advice, was a scout leader named Christopher, he told us of a Sci-fi book he has started writing, and he needed some advice on what to do. The first bit of advice we gave him was to join a local writing group and that he is welcome to come along to ours whenever he can make it, otherwise he can keep in touch with us online, and we can support him with his writing just as we support each other.

We told him never to give up and to celebrate when he hits a milestone, like getting to his first 100 pages. We gave him advice on editing and asking someone to read his work before he feels it is reading to go out into the world alone and find a publisher. We spoke about the possibilities of self-publishing and gave him advice on finding an agent. Christopher left our room with inspiration and hopefully the will to continue writing.

Another person that came in was one who ran an art store in the centre for the day, his name was Fitz, and his art was brilliant. He worked with his wife, Debs. Fitz came in as an artist, and like a true artist, he wanted to have a go at expanding his imagination. So, we all took part in writing a short story, no more than 100 words. He was very interesting, and I made the point that if he put a line break at each comma, it could be a free verse poem because it read like one.

The Children’s Gang Show was very entertaining, and I wish that I could have seen more of it. The children sang beautifully, and it was great to see people of all ages taking part.

Creative Walsall shared a room with us; the art was in the form of fun sculptures. They were the kind of art that you just had to touch and play with and speaking to the artist that is exactly what it is meant to do, so our Nicole, as cheeky as she is, could not resist and it was quite obvious that she was having a lot of fun while playing with this type of modern art. Both Nicole and the sculptures put a smile on all our faces.

While we were at the centre, I bumped into a friend of mine. I am not going to mention his name as he was there in a personal capacity. My friend had had cancer, and he had just had the news that he was in remission. I could tell that he had been through the mill and it was obvious that cancer and the treatment had knocked him about. It was great to see him, but I wish he could have been there under better circumstances. I know the Oldbury Writing Group did not make a massive impact on the day, out of all the visitors that the centre had only a few came to us, but on that day the centre raised over £500 and that money will go towards helping people like my friend. For that reason, I am glad we were there, and I am glad we could support such a fantastic cause. I am proud of the Oldbury Writing Group for taking part in something that ended up having such a massive impact to help improve the life of others.

Everyone knows what it feels like to lose someone to cancer; it is one of the world’s biggest killers. I lost my dad, aunt, both granddads and my other aunt is in remission from breast cancer. There is nothing worse than either being told you have cancer or being told that a loved one does. So support centres, like the one in Sutton Coldfield, are essential for people who need them. Wellbeing days like this one raises a lot of money for them, and no matter how little, we were there to help them.

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Writing Goals 2017

Oldbury Writing Group’s main goal is to encourage and support each member. So, because it’s a new year, we thought it would be a brilliant idea for all members to come up with their own writing goals. And hopefully, we can help each other to reach our goals.

Our 2017 Writing Goals

Angela L. Garratt

Angela L. Garratt - O.W.G. Writer

  • Edit and publish next novella – The Desk
  • Publish a collection of poetry and short stories

Nicole J. Simms

Nicole J Simms - O.W.G. Writer

  • Finish editing my novel
  • Start writing my next novel
  • Edit my psychological horror novella
  • Complete and publish my flash fiction collection
  • Edit my current short stories
  • Create a fictional village for my supernatural comedy novella series
  • Edit the first novella in my supernatural comedy series
  • Work on my playwriting skills

Dave Edwards

Dave Edwards - O.W.G Writer

  • Participate in the Oldbury Writing Group, contributing useful information and encouraging and supporting the group and its individual members
  • Become a published writer

Chris Allen

Chris Allen - O.W.G Writer

  • Write more short stories within the horror/sci-fi and supernatural genre
  • Want to pitch a technical help column for some magazines (People’s Friend being one of them)
  • To share my work and get feedback/input from the other Oldbury Writing Group members

Andrew Lines

Andrew Lines - O.W.G. Writer

  • Finish editing my novel
  • Write more poems
  • Compile a book of short stories – flash fictions

Percy Eamus

Percy Eamus - O.W.G. Writer

  • Complete a 30 minute play suitable for BBC Radio 4

Jackie Adams

Jackie Adams- O.W.G Writer

  • To write and publish a poetry collection

You can find out more about our fabulous writers via our ‘The Writers’ page.

The Oldbury Writing Group’s Poetry Reading for Armistice Day 2016

By Jackie Adams

The Armistice Day commemoration was held at West Bromwich Central Library on the 11th November 2016.

This year was of particular significance due to 2016 being the 100 years anniversary of The Battle of the Somme.

The commemoration was attended by Staff Sergeant Alan Cupples – who is with the 202 Regiment Field Hospital, an army reserve unit, based in Kings Heath, Birmingham – and Officer Cadet Francis Parkes – who is training to be a nurse at the 202 Regiment Field Hospital. When she is a qualified nurse, she will be deployed anywhere in the world.

Seeing Staff Sergeant Cupples and Officer Cadet Parkes in their khaki uniforms brought home a realisation of the duties and the sacrifice – the flower of youth of a lost generation.

There were readings of poems. Yvonne Furnell, the lady who organised the commemoration, introduced her daughter, Elizabeth, who read a poem about the First World War. Officer Cadet Parkes read ‘We Will Remember Them’, and Staff Sergeant Cupples read another World War One poem.

We – the Oldbury Writing Group – read poems and stories from our World War Two anthology titled ‘From Sunrise to Sunset’. Angela L. Garratt read ‘Poppies’, Jackie Adams read ‘To Susan Grace’, Percy Eamus read ‘An Alternative’, Nicole Simms read ‘The Women of the War’, Andrew Lines read ‘Here Before’, and Bally read her poem ‘Remembrance Day’. Then at 11 o’clock we observed the two minutes’ silence.

After the two minutes’ silence, poppies, the traditional paper, the knitted woollen, and the refreshments were selling fast. Collecting tins jangled all raising funds for The Legion – the popular name for the Royal British Legion.

Armistice Day 2016 had been observed around the world. In the African country of Lesotho, where they struggled to pay for two squadrons of 24 Spitfires to help Britain in the war, they now have a replica Spitfire near the war memorial in Lesotho, which lists the names of over 1,000 war dead – Lesotho is only a tiny country.

Prince Harry laid a wreath at the National Memorial in Staffordshire. And in the commonwealth countries from New Zealand and Australia to Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, India and Asia, the Pacific, and the smaller islands all honoured Armistice Day. The Gurkhas, the Irish, the Welsh, the Scottish, and in Europe ceremonies were held.

On Armistice Day, we remember the dead, and the wounded on all sides. We remember the children who suffer the most in war, and we remember the sufferings of the million horses lost in World War One, the carrier pigeons, and the dogs serving in recent conflicts. We remember the almost forgotten millions who died after Armistice Day 1918 – of the Spanish Flu, around the world, more people died from the Spanish flu than in the fighting. And on Armistice Day we remember peace.

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Oldbury Writing Group’s Christmas Meal 2016

By Nicole J. Simms

On Saturday 17th December 2016, we decided to celebrate our third Christmas together by having a Christmas meal.

Before we went for our meal, we had a little party in the library. We ate biscuits and chocolate. Angela brought in Buck’s Fizz and crackers to get us in the party mood, and I (like the true horror writer that I am) entertained the group with a horror film quiz. We also had two visitors: Brendan Jackson came to say Merry Christmas, and our virtual member Michelle McLean came in to introduce herself to the group – it was really nice to meet Michelle.

After our morning session, we headed to The White Swan pub for our Christmas meal. Like last year’s Christmas meal, we pulled crackers, ate a fulfilling meal, talked, and laughed non-stop thanks to the jokers of the group – I won’t name any names. It was a lovely day, and it made me realise how lucky I am to have found such an amazing writing group.

2016 has been another brilliant year for the Oldbury Writing Group: we went to the Pow Wow festival, we finished the draft of our WW2 anthology, we’ve taken part in events to help promote our anthology, we’ve gone on group trips, and we’ve been to the theatre, plus so much more. It has been a great year, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Oldbury Writing Group.

Our 2017 Writing Goals

It’s a good idea for all writers to have goals because it helps to keep you focused and motivated. So for the first time O.W.G have decided to create a list of goals:

  • Finish our WW2 anthology – we have to do a final edit and then publish.
  • Do a book tour – once our book is completed, we will need to promote it, and one of the ways we will be promoting our books is by doing a book tour. We’ll let you know the details closer to the time.
  • Work on our performance skills – this will be important for the book tour and our play.
  • Go on more inspirational trips – these trips have always helped to inspire our writing, and they’re also fun to go on.
  • Start working on our play – our next project together (after the anthology) will be a play.

As you can see, we will be very busy next year, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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