ShortbreadStories: The Blog

Read. Discuss. Blog.

Archive for the category “Features”

Introducing Writing Circles

/by Erica Brooks/

I don’t want to embarrass anybody, but I’m going to anyway. Recently a new member named Icarus Fell, a.k.a. Stewart Hobby, put out an enterprising request in the forums. He wanted more readers, more feedback on his stories, and he offered to give feedback on others’ stories in return.

It was a simple and effective notion that sparked a good deal of encouragement, mostly veterans encouraging comments in general. Because, as Stewart’s request demonstrates well, comments are at the heart of the ShortbreadStories experience. The encouragement and constructive criticism are what make people want to post here. And it gave me an idea that we’re going to try out.

There is a new Forum Thread dedicated to Writing Circles, un-ironically, titled ‘Untitled’ (the backstory to this is that we can’t, at the moment, change the Forum thread titles, so we’re having to use ‘Untitled’ to denote ‘Writing Circles’).

The idea of Writing Circles is very, very simple – find some other writers and make an agreement to read, and to comment on, each other’s stories. Think of it like a virtual writers’ group.

Here’s how it’ll work. We’ve set up the new ‘Untitled’ Thread along with a few new Forum posts to get you started:

– The Circle Market is a place to post if you are looking for a circle to join. You can specify how many people you’d like to partner with, what kind of feedback you’re looking for, and anything else you consider relevant. This is a self-organising space, so use it as you see fit.

– The Circle Lottery is for people who would like to be randomly assigned writing partners. I’ll periodically pull names out of a hat, aiming for groups of four to eight people.

– The Suggestions Box is for general feedback.

– Group Discussion is for general talk, although you can also feel free to post your own threads and start your own discussions.

– Circle Challenges is for writing prompts and challenges in which each writing circle can participate.

You may want to organise circles around particular needs or interests – genre, writing goals, or experience, for instance. It’s also a chance for people to ask for a specific kind of feedback. Do you just want a bit of accountability and encouragement? Or are you looking for intensive, critical editing with an eye toward publication?

This is, of course, an experiment. It’s very much member-driven, although I’ll be keeping an eye on the place, watching for suggestions and stepping in if needed. Expect tweaks.

Most of all, take care of each other, especially new people. But then, you do that already, which is why you’re here.

Happy writing!

Erica

PS-If you’re getting a bit tired of ShortbreadStories ‘work arounds’ like ‘Untitled’ Forum Threads, you can donate to the redevelopment of the website by going to http://www.mycharitypage.com/shortbreadstories.

shortbread_logo
Re-blogged from: Introducing Writing Circles | Shortbread 

 

Advertisements

Critical Collective: The Case of the Murder at the Falls

The Critical Collective is an ongoing feature gives writers the chance to get brutally honest feedback on their writing. This the next Critical Collective author is James McEwan who has asked our Shortbreaders to look in detail at his story ‘The Case of the Murder at the Falls’.

To get involved in The Critical Collective read this month’s story on our Critical Collective Forum thread.

If you would like your story to be featured in the next Critical Collective please email the story to rachel@shortbreadstories.com

 

Re-blogged from: Shortbread Stories’s Blog › Critical Collective: The Case of the Murder at the Falls | Shortbread

shortbread_logo

Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23rd March

/by Nik Eveleigh/

OK, it’s Spotlight time again. Rumour has it that on this day in history (March 23rd) in 1839 the letters ‘O.K.’ appeared in print for the first time. It’s hard to believe that it only took a mere hundred and seventy five years for me to start a blog post with the same letters.

If something is OK it’s generally considered to be fine, average, business as usual. To paraphrase a great line delivered by the character Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, this week’s picks are ‘pretty…umm…gosh darn far from ok.’

Diane Dickson features regularly in the Spotlight. This week her appearance is as nominator rather than nominee, and she asked that I highlight Educated Fishwives by another Spotlight stalwart Adam West.

Diane – your wish is my command. And, in fact, I will see your Educated Fishwife and raise you the rest of the Alphane Moon series. Adam will write-off these stories in his usual humble manner, as a Philip K Dick tribute act, but I’ve read all four and would urge you to do the same. Intelligent writing that focusses on an unusual love story.

The cycle begins with Do Eros Sevens Dream of Jupiter or Mars, continues with Love on an Alphane Moon and Sex, Life and Death on an Alphane Moon and concludes with the aforementioned Educated Fishwives.

Speak of the devil. The man himself has just appeared, so I’ll hand over to him for his picks of the week. If anyone needs me I’ll be in the green room sipping bubbly with the Shortbread illuminati.

Diversity reigns at ShortbreadStories, with many regulars continuing to publish some first-rate material. It is newcomers writing highly original and inventive fiction that I have, however, chosen to highlight. All three should dispel any peculiar notions that this site lacks talent.

For starters I give you I Love You, But… by Chris Crawshaw. Quality writing. Darkly funny metaphorical fare. No monkey business.

Then there’s Aimee Macaskill. Take your pick. The Wasp is good. So is Deep Breaths. Another writer with potential I have had the pleasure to read, and my last choice for Nik’s Spotlight feature (may I say thanks Nik for continuing to write and edit this worthy piece)…

(You may Adam – the agreed fee will be with you shortly.)

Beel Neale is less a newcomer than the aforementioned writers with eighteen stories on the site in just two months, but I am nevertheless still getting to know and appreciate thisemerging style.

In Butterflies At Dawn, Beel writes:

‘They’re waiting for the butterflies.

In the half-light they come, so numerous they fill the air — no, they seem almost to be the air. The sky is choked with a million fluttering autumn leaves.

Little Cathy spins around in a circle.

“Look,” she cries, in a soft whisper. “Look, they’re everywhere.”‘

Thanks Adam. I think I’d better send you into the green room – a few people are getting out of hand with those free Shortbread shooters…

Some great picks already. Chris Crawshaw’s story in particular is a cracker in my opinion, but I have a few more to add and strangely enough it also begins with a Chris – Christopher Donaldson and his story Crank

Crank is hilarious. It should be required reading for anyone who has ever ridden a bike, strapped on a pair of running shoes, or done something equally foolish in the early hours of a weekend morning. You are always guaranteed a top notch story with Chris but this is his first foray into comedy and hopefully won’t be the last.

The final burst of the Spotlight this week falls on someone who has just joined ShortbreadStories and has kicked off with a brave and unusual piece. In the comments placed on this story, James McEwan reckons it should be the story of the week – high praise indeed from someone who reads, comments and critiques as often and as well as James does – but well deserved. So, for those of you havent read it yet go and check out Meagan Wollaston and her story Sheltered and let her know what you think.

OK. I’ll see you all in a fortnight. Happy reading and please keep your picks coming to spotlight@shortbreadstories.com.

Cheers’

Nik

Re-blogged from: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23rd March | Shortbread

shortbread_logo

Shortbread Spotlight: 1st week of March

/by Nick Eveleigh/

I do believe the Spotlight has hit a new record this week – fifteen separate stories for your viewing pleasure! It may even be sixteen if I can decide on my own pick between now and the end of the blog.

So, without further ado about much let’s launch into this week’s picks.

There’s been a lot of Oscar talk over the last week or two (I’m referring to the awards ceremony rather than the blade-running alleged murderer), and we begin this week with the recent recipient of the ‘Man most likely to write a piece of romantic comedy and then set about it with a buzzsaw, several zombies and enough buckets of blood to make the final scene in Carrie look like a paper-cut’ award. It is of course Mr Robert Kasch and his choices based on overall consistency and excellence’: Diane Dickson for A Darker MoonSuzanne Mays for her Prairie Girlfriend stories (Prairie Girlfriend and Prairie Girlfriend Meets Cowboy) and Patsy R Liles for Terror by Night or Day.

In Spotlight terms Diane Dickson and Suzanne Mays are clearly in the Gravity bracket when it comes to racking up the mentions. This time Diane is the nominator and Suzanne the recipient for her story Mandover Cottage, an older story from one of our regular contributors and the opportunity to bring it back to the fore for new readers was too good to miss.

Diane continues her look down memory lane with the Little Mr. Peterson series (part onepart two and part three) from Mark Patrick, who, in Diane’s words ‘seems to have left the site, at least he hasn’t been around but amongst his other stuff which was all good there are three of these weird little stories and they certainly left me wanting more.  I sort of hope he’s off somewhere expanding the strange world and that if he is he will come back and share it with us’.

Up next ladies and gentleman to present the award for ‘Best international story from people who may be foreign depending on where you live’ it’s the recent recipient of the ‘Outstanding achievement in the art of comma termination’ prize, Mr Adam West.

Once (last week to be precise) there was an Englishman, an Irishman, an Afro-Welshman, an American and a hmm – an Australian (woman), and all of them wrote brilliant stories that just happen to form my eclectic (stopping yawning Eveleigh, I know I used the ‘E’ word again) pick for this week’s Spotlight.

And the nominees are…

Dead Man Walking by Des Kelly – If effete males being dominated by strong sexy females (sisters) is your stick, then get a hold of this beauty by an English bloke. If on the other hand you prefer sublime Celtic poetry that defies description (that’s why I plumped for sublime) then Gus Glynn has to win with The Tower. If on another hand – you don’t actually have – you go in for some crazy Afro-Welsh combo send-up of all things irritatingly Orc-like then MISTER Nik Eveleigh writes very cleverly in A Shaggy Crow Story. Alternately read The Lady Red, where in an alternate (parallel) universe an American called Robert Kasch writes super cool steam-punk set in post WW1 ‘London’. They are all top-drawer stories and so isDenise Melville‘s Running On Empty. What more could you ask? It’s got Tim-Tams and a dunny, an old man, a young woman, and a landlord who is all heart. Not.

…and the Oscar goes to…

What? I’m not telling you. Go and read them and make your own mind up.

Last and by no means least we come to the “Most economical use of words in a short story title” award. And here to present it is the First Lady of Bunfettle herself, Kate Smart.

Walk by Bill Hutchinson

The Room by Gus Glynn

I respond to work on an emotional level and while I know that many writers look for this on Shortbread, I don’t like to analyse, criticise and take things apart myself, because thinking in that way disturbs my enjoyment as I read, and I also worry about disrespecting the efforts of the writer (if it is clear that efforts have been made, of course). Can I read it through smoothly without feeling blocked or interrupted, is what goes through my head, on some level? Bill’s story was excellent in that respect, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would have been more than happy to read on – which is high praise from me! I will definitely read more of his work. Gus’s story is a descriptive piece that really drew me in, and because I liked it so much it led me to read all four of his pieces on Shortbread. I think he is a gifted writer and I look forward to reading longer work by him.

That wraps it up for another week folks – enough quality on offer already without me adding a pick I’d say.

Thanks to everyone who contributed – both for nominating and for writing stories worthy of sharing. As always I’d love to hear from you next time around at spotlight@shortbreadstories.com and I hope you enjoy reading (and commenting) on this week’s picks.

Cheers

Nik

Read more: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: 1st week of March | Shortbread

Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23 February

/by Nick Eveleigh/

Shortbread has been a busy place over the last fortnight. Stories have been coming in at over fifty a week, and it’s been good to see newer members of the site getting involved in reading and commenting. Old debates have been rekindled (and now hopefully put to bed), Facebook and Twitter updates are coming thick and fast (thanks to our Social Media Elf) and articles and interviews appear (and disappear) so swiftly I can barely keep up. There’s even a Valentine’s Day competition to vote on. (You have until 28 February to cast your vote.) So, despite the technical glitches we hit on occasion, the community is very much alive and kicking.

Speaking of the technical glitches, the only way to fix them long term is through funding. Three members of the site – Kate SmartDiane Dickson and Robert Kasch – have all pledged proceeds from their work to the site so please support them here. Personally I work on an inverted funding model which involves me paying my friends to read my stories but as soon as I flip that around I will be sure to follow the example set.

And so, on to the picks for the week. We start with a man who is not only an excellent writer and an active reader and commentator, but also has extraordinary taste and wisdom when it comes to choosing stories. That man is Robert Kaschand he chose a great recent submission from Adam West…before losing the plot and choosing one from yours truly:

Being a junkie of Horror, science fiction and hard boiled murder mysteries and have over the years collected thousands of the now, mostly defunct, digests of said genres I was happy to see a fantastic future world story The Feast of Margaret by Adam West along with a dark and well painted tale The Water’s Edge by Nik EveleighGood job on both stories.

My slightly tedious self-deprecation aside, I’m thrilled to have this story chosen by Robert, and I’m equally thrilled to see Adam’s tale included. It’s well worth reading.

Next up this week is Kate Smart. Her choices this week reflect that there’s something for everyone on ShortbreadStories: three very different writers playing with different styles and genres, all well written and all worth a look:

Fools Rush In by Sheila Ireland – a frothy chic-lit-style story, perfect with a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate.

No Big Deal by Robert Kasch – I really liked the almost beat-style tone of this and could not find anything wrong with it at all, despite Robert having submitted it to the Critical Collective for a possible ‘mauling’.

Beside the Sea by Desmond Kelly – thoughtful and very well-written.

Over to Adam West to tell you about his choices for the week while I take a well-earned tea break. This stuff doesn’t just write itself y’know…

My three choices this week come from two writers – one well established on the site, the other a newcomer.

Toffee-Head-Tom by Hugh Cron – it’s a bit odd – it’s a lot of fun and it’s pretty original, too. Read it and smile.

My other two picks come from Shortbread newcomer, Veronica Tan. Firstly, Regretful Sinner which reads a bit like a synopsis for a remake of the Brad Pitt shocker Se7en. It’s a very neat piece of writing.

In Unseen and Unknown, Veronica writes:

‘Tick, tock, tick, tock,

Tell me what you see not

Do you know what’s the most dangerous thing in life? It’s a corner. Not poison nor a knife or even a murderer, but a corner instead.’

Highly imaginative and innovative writing – superbly edited – a joy to read. More please.

I’ve read all of Adam’s picks this week and they really are excellent.

Right, I’ve lobbed a bag of commas in West’s general direction so while he’s distracted there’s just enough time for me to put forward a pick of my own.

My choice this week is Privatization In Mind by Kevin Thomson. At first glance the Doric dialect will seem impenetrable to many of you but take your time to get into it and you’ll uncover a clever, tragic and occasionally hilarious piece of satire. I can highly recommend reading it out loud as not only does it help to make sense of some of the phrases but it’s a liberating experience to sound like a bad extra from an Irvine Welsh novel in the comfort of your own home.

That’s it until next time…please keep all your picks coming to spotlight@shortbreadstories.com, but more importantly go and read the stories and tell the writers what you think of their work.

Cheers

Nik
Re-bloged from: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23 February | Shortbread

shortbread_logo

Meet the ShortbreadSocial Media Elf…Sort Of

/by ShortbreadStories Elf/

Hello Shortbreaders,

Welcome to the new look ShortbreadStories blog here at WordPress. As many of you will know already the ShortbreadStories website is in need of some TLC. At the moment the site design doesn’t allow us to have more than one and one article on the homepage. Although this worked with the older Shorbread model, it’s not particularly convenient for the increased content that we want to share with you without clogging up your inboxes. While Rachel works to get together the funding and technical support that Shortbread not only needs but deserves, this blog has been set up as a breakout area for all of the Shortbread stuff that doesn’t involve your Writing Desk or the Forums.

So, time for me to say hello. I’m the Shortbread Social Media Elf and I’ll be curating the blog here as well as keeping you updated on all things Shortbread on Facebook and Twitter. I’m a writer and editor who has been a member of Shortbread for 4 years. I run other blogs and am the Social Media Elf for a few other places too. Like everyone on the Shortbread team at the moment I’m a unpaid volunteer and, in order to keep my participation in the writing side of Shortbread neutral, I’m remaining anonymous. I share the Social Media duties with Rachel, so beware as you’ll usually be unable to tell which of us it is.

As for going forward with the blog, the plan is to share the regular blogs and articles from ShortbreadStories.com as well as new content from discussions that arise on Facebook and Twitter written by me. We’ll be editing the information on the blog over the next few weeks and cutting back on the massively unwieldy list of post categories over there on the right hand side, and replacing it with a simpler system.

As with anything Shortbread it’s our members that make the community what it is and so we’d love to hear what you think of the new look and the plans for the blog in the comments.

Looking forward to chatting with you.

Best wishes,

Elf x

ELf2

The Perpetual Student Gives Advice

/by Rachel Marsh/

I have spent seventy-two percent of my life in formal education. Wow. That’s the first time I’ve ever written that down, and suddenly it seems like a lot. Now, I feel like I must defend my choice to be a perpetual student, as I don’t believe I’ve made it a ‘lifestyle’ choice. I don’t snooze until noon every day and hangout in pubs every night. I don’t sleep on a futon or eat pot noodle. Since leaving high school I have been steadily employed, often working full time to pay fees. I am an ‘adult’. I currently have a job that carries a bit of responsibility, a lovely flat, and a schmorgesborg of grown-up friends who have their own adult responsibilities like kids and mortgages; I help run a charity and I am in a very long-term loving relationship.

I don’t feel like I fit the image of the ‘perpetual student’; yet, with the exception of a nine-year hiatus between my undergraduate and postgraduate studies, I have spent the majority of my life as a student. Plus, for five of the nine years in which I was not enrolled on a course, I was a creative writing teacher; thus, raising the total percentage to eighty-five.

The question now arises, ‘Was it worth it?’ To be honest, I am in a lot of debt thanks to my educational interests, and I don’t know if I am any more employable than I would be without the series of letters behind my name. (I hope that I am more employable, but in this economy is anyone’s career secure?) I blame my weight gain on hours spent at a desk studying and researching, and it can’t be a coincidence that the grey hairs began arriving during the final stages of my postgraduate thesis.  Superficially, no I am no better for having spent so many years as a student.

Yet, education should never have superficial rewards. I must enjoy learning and being a student, or I wouldn’t keep matriculating. And, I know for a fact, that my academic background has had a positive influence on my creative writing.

While I do have one degree in creative writing, the rest of my qualifications are in other subjects, and I believe the non-creative writing training has had an impact on my writing. I know this because I recently discovered a short story I wrote before doing my master’s degree. I was not in school and was working as a cultural journalist, but the writing was hammy and the story was trite. Despite using the piece to secure a place on a creative writing programme, the work was elementary at best.

Since writing that story, I hope my creative work has improved, but even more importantly I believe I’ve gained transferable skills from a lifetime in academia.

  • I have the patience to write. I still get distracted easily, and usually I prefer to be outside in the sunshine than at a desk. But, because I’ve completed a difficult research thesis that took years to finish, I know the long-term rewards of finishing a writing project outweighs a little short-term dissatisfaction.
  • I know my limitations, and I am okay with them. I am a horrible speller, and when it comes to my own work I am an even worse copyeditor. I usually have to complete a project far in advance of the deadline, let it sit for a few days before editing it, and still have someone look over the piece before submitting. This is something that I began to learn as a journalist, but anything other than perfection is not an option in the judgemental world of academia.
  • I’m not hurt by rejection. Not all of my studies went smoothly. In fact, I had some unfortunate battles during my recent stint as a postgraduate, but I understand that art, writing and research are subjective. Now, when a short story or novel is rejected by an agent or an editor, it honestly does not bother me.  I simply move on.
  • I am a multi-tasker extraordinaire. Because I have always been employed while in education, I have learned to juggle jobs, essay deadlines, exam timetables, presentations at conferences, and extra teaching. Now, when I come home in the evening and the only task ahead of me is a bit of writing on my novel, I find it a treat. There is no down time for students or writers.
  • I know I have more to learn. Academic hubris is a bitch. As a student, I would complete a project, and think I was the top in my field. Then someone better, smarter and more talented would come along and knock me off my pedestal.  This is how I learned that jealousy does nothing to make you a better writer – or even a better person. So, when someone more talented steps into your life, the best thing to do is learn from them.

I sincerely believe that without education, especially higher education, I would have never acquired these skills, and I would not have progressed with my writing. However, not everyone has the opportunity, or the desire, to spend their entire life in a classroom. Yet, everyone can be a student.

Being a student is about more than a matriculation card. There are educational opportunities everywhere: free classes at the local library, online courses, books to help you study from home, free web tutorials. These days, options for learning are everywhere and are not limited to official University courses. In fact, we’ve always touted the wonderful learning properties of ShortbreadStories.

Take some advice from a life-long student. Go and study something, anything — learn a language, take tour on Renaissance art at a museum, check out books at the library on horticulture. Just pick a subject you enjoy, set yourself an achievable target (for example, within six months you may wish to be further versed on the monarchy of France) and do all you can to achieve that goal. I promise, your writing will flourish in the process.

Paperless Back Writer

/by Lee Crompton/

If you read my last blog about self-publishing, you may have thought it all sounded quite difficult. The initial capital outlay required to print the paperbacks can be substantial and there is no guarantee of recouping the money through sales. ISBN’s and sourcing a printer can be a headache, so what if you could get your book “out there” with minimum cost and effort?

I’ve never really embraced the concept of the digital book. There had been many success stories but like anything, not everyone can become a bestseller. Amazon make a shed load of cash from the hundreds of thousands of people who sell a handful of copies. Aside from this, I’m not keen on the idea of reading a novel from a rigid slab.

However, curiosity got the better of me. All I needed was an Amazon account. I signed up for free and once I’d read the publishing guidelines it didn’t take long to format the book and insert the page breaks into my Word document. It was then just a case of uploading the file and waiting for it to become available.

I chose to experiment with my latest novel, Digging Deeper. Having already released it as a paperback, I was curious to find out if making it available on Kindle would add anything? It wasn’t going to cost me, so I decided to sell each copy for just a £1 (even with Amazon clearly wanting a cut of the profits).

And so there it was … on Amazon … available, ranked as #300,000 and not 1 copy sold. I made a cup of coffee and thought I’d tell the world, through Facebook and Twitter that Digging Deeper was available for £1. I went to bed.

To my amazement, I woke up the following morning to discover that it had moved up to #85,776. I needed to tell the world. I tweeted some more, Facebooked friends. Two hours later it had reached a sales ranking of #17,546. There were re-tweets, friends told their friends, momentum gathered. By the end of the following day, Digging Deeper had reached #87 of all books available in the horror/thriller genre on Kindle, outselling the likes of Stephen King and John Grisham.

Now, this may have lasted for a matter of hours but without really trying very hard I had broken the top #100. However brief, it had become an instant success and the secret would have been to keep the momentum going.

It was an experiment, maybe something to consider with the new book, but it had given me an insight in the possibilities. If I was prepared to put more time into the marketing, maybe build up a snowball effect with more and more retweets on Twitter, then who knew where it would lead.

So if you’re looking to self-publish but not sure where you start, releasing a Kindle edition might be the way forward. After all, it costs you nothing to dip your toe into the publishing pool, and you might be surprised with the results.

Shortbreader Inspiration: Suzanne Mays

/by Suzanne Mays/

All kind of things inspire me. I’ll get a title, a word, a group of words that sound right. I’ll think of a story to go along with it. Often I’ll put my pen on a piece of paper and just start writing gibberish. It makes no sense but this leads to that, and then there’s something. Like how did ‘Sign Pine Road’ get its name? Well, I actually found out there was a big pine tree at the cross roads with an arrow sign nailed on it. When they had to come up with a name for that road, and that’s what they called it.

Crazy things like that inspire me, and I don’t care if no one likes these stories but me. Of course, I’d like readers to enjoy my work, but if a story’s clicking heels for me, and I did the best that I could, I don’t care if others don’t respond. Also, it helps that my stories don’t have to pay the electric bill or the rent, so I write what I want. That makes it fun.

It’s a combination of wanting to write and the fun of writing. I love words – love words that make pictures in my mind. Those pictures are beautiful daydreams and, for awhile, I get to live there. Maybe I’m super controlling. Maybe I love it because I get to control every single thing inside my stories. What they say, what they do, what they wear. I can’t do that in real life. But in a story, I can tell everybody what to do. Sometimes the characters tell me what to do and that’s fun, too.

The main thing that inspires me to write is that curling up with a good story and just wanting to stay there, is a wonderful thing. I’m right there in that world, and I don’t want to leave. Lots of writers have done that for me. If I can ever do that for somebody else, it’ll be the coolest day of my life. Anybody can write, but it helps if they want to. I have to want to writer, and I believe that if I just keep at it – I can.

Hay on Wye

/by Carol Ford/

Hay Book and Arts Festival celebrated its 25th Anniversary in June and as we were holidaying in Hereford, we decided to pay our first visit to Hay on Wye.

A tented village housed the festival, which was situated only half a mile west of the quaint little town.

The town itself was filled with oodles of bookshops, some so large you could spend days in each of them. Music filled the air (despite the rain) as various bands and singers performed under cover in the centre of town. The smell of barbecued food was enticing, as were the stalls filled with fresh local farm fruits and vegetables.

We walked up and down the quaint little streets browsing gift shops, boutiques and even more bookshops. Cafes served the most delicious home-made dishes with cakes galore!

A short walk up the main road from the town to the festival was an interesting adventure. Locals set up tables in their gardens and sold filled rolls, soft drinks and fresh strawberries to passers-by. For those who didn’t want to walk, transport consisted of a single decker bus, which ran back and forth all day between town and festival, along with two very athletic young men driving bicycle rickshaws!

On entering the tented village you immediately felt the atmosphere. People were handing out leaflets for events, (although it’s always advisable to pre book) and there were creative writing workshops, workshops for children, book stalls, art displays, information tents, all in rows. Food being sold from vans; the usual steak burgers, fish and chips, coffees and ice creams.!

The more famous personalities gave their talks in huge seated marquees. We pre-booked a few weeks beforehand which was just as well as some events were packed out.

Harry Belafonte (for those of you who remember him) was our first port of call. He spoke a bit about his life and his new book. He was very interesting.

Ian Rankin was next – the marquee was packed – and guess what..? Rebus is returning hooray..!

Rob Brydon followed and was so entertaining, we could have listened to him all night.

Our last entertainer was Sinclair McKay, talking about his new book ‘The Secret Life of Bletchley Park’ – utterly captivating.

We could have spent a whole week in Hay on Wye as there were so many interesting people to see, but we also wanted to tour the rest of Herefordshire, which is beautiful.

For anyone interested in visiting the festival I would suggest you book on line around April.

Next stop in August – The Edinburgh Book Festival!

Post Navigation