Author Archives: bristolwomenwriters

Review – and recommendation! Story Sunday through the eyes of a first-time reader

Thanks to Suzanne McConnaghy for summing up her first experience of reading with us at Southbank on March 19th.

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Mark Lewis, Suzanne, Ali Bacon, Debbie Young, Heather Jo Reed

Writers Unchained impressed me so much at the Festival of Literature, back in October 2016, that I decided I would enter their next event. They’d finally got me to see that writing a short story was not just writing a story: there was an art to it. Large learning curve and here I am at Story Sunday  on March 19th, 2017, about to step onto the stage.

The Southbank Club provides us with a relaxed and welcoming venue to listen to ten writers’ interpretations of the theme: ‘Another Country.’

I soon find Story Sunday’s excellent organisation is very supportive to the readers – when you have a programme and know exactly when you are on, it does a lot to calm the nerves. I’m placed mid-way through Act 1 and this gives me time to see how the first two excellent writers handle the situation but comes early enough to allow relaxed enjoyment of the remaining performances.

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Mark Rutterford, Jean Burnett, John Holland, Lania Knight, Dawn Maria Kelly

Heather Jo Reed’s ‘Mr Muyila’s Bull’ transports us straight out to the African Bush, transfixing the listener as we come to understand the fate intended for the little girl and enjoy the mother’s clever thwarting of her husband’s will. Thoroughly rattled by Mark Lewis’s surreal ‘The Ancestors,’ during which we travel across place and time,’ I realise it’s my turn. I’ve prepared a smooth response to the introduction but fail to hear a word of what is said – it must be nerves – so I have to go straight into the story. With ‘Boy in a Blue Shirt,’ you’re out in Bristol, mixing with the people who live on the streets – and under them.

Ali Bacon’s sensitive story of a young girl’s death, ‘The Coldest Country of All,’ introduces a note of sadness which contrasts well with the following piece, ‘The Emperor’s New Wall.’ After the tension of the previous reading, this satirical story by Debbie Young gives the audience an opportunity for uncomplicated laughter.

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Dawn Maria Kelly, Another Country-style

An interval filled with the strong musical performance of Dawn Marie Kelly, mixing well-known titles with some of her own work, and we’re into the second act with Jean Burnett’s ‘Swansong.’ Set in Malta, it reveals the uncertain world of the hit-man and confirms that his is not the ideal profession – if we didn’t already know it. A smooth performance by Lania Knight with ‘The Red Doll’ touches on the theme of homesickness and the power of certain objects, while John Holland’s ‘The Doorstep’ deals with a familiar character, the Polish workman, whom we see in an entirely new way. Then, Dawn Marie Kelly is back with ‘No Place,’ the story of a simple world somehow made infinitely menacing in the telling. Her acting ability and very convincing American accent made this story very powerful.

To finish, Mark Rutterford’s funny, self-deprecating ‘Skydiving’ takes us on a whirlwind journey through his love life, which feels exactly how I believe skydiving would be. This intricate, cleverly-constructed story is a worthy end to a very satisfying programme.

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Picture by Rebecca Lang

Can I recommend attendance at the next Writers Unchained event?
Most definitely. You’ll sit enthralled through a couple of hours of thought-provoking entertainment. And if you’re a writer with aspirations like me, you’ll also learn much from the way in which the performers handle their material and deliver it to the audience. Look out for the next Story Sunday.

Thank you, Suzanne! If anyone would like to be notified of our next event,  please contact us to be added to our mailing list. 

Another Country – nearly there!

anothercountryorangeThe programme is nearly done for our next event on Sunday March 19th when ten local writers will read their interpretations of our chosen theme ‘Another Country’

The venue is Southbank Club, Dean Lane, Bedminster, Bristol  BS3 1DB
7-9 pm

Entry £5 on the door.

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Guest writers at the last Story Sunday

We’re delighted our line-up is confirmed. Come along and hear new work from old friends and familiar faces and with live music from Dawn Kelly. 

Guests: John Holland, Lania Knight, Mark Lewis, Mark Rutterford and Debbie Young

Writers Unchained members:
Ali Bacon, Jean Burnett, Dawn Kelly, Suzanne Mcconaghy and Heather-Jo Reed

 

Hope you can join us!

The Twilight Zone – Captain’s Log

Stardate: October 24th ….

Out of this world – or just plain blinding.

You’ll have to excuse the cliches while we say a massive thanks to everyone who made last night’s Twilight Zone an absolutely stunning experience. Most of all to our amazing writers who each brought a unique and contribution to the SF/spec-fic genre every one of which was totally unforgettable.

So let’s hear it for these brave and talented souls who took the floor (with apologies for the odd solar flare!)

ACT ONE

Kevlin Henney 'Ashes to Ashes, Manana, Manana'

Kevlin Henney ‘Ashes to Ashes, Manana, Manana’

Julie Hayman ‘A new Cosmic Order After the Apocalypse’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonty Levine 'The Map of Chad'

Jonty Levine ‘The Map of Chad’

 

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Mark Lewis ‘Candy Man’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Corlett, 'Last Tango in Space'

Anne Corlett, ‘Last Tango in Space’ (and first glass of wine back on earth!)

ACT TWO

Alex Bridge 'Questionable Benefit'

Alex Bridge ‘Questionable Benefit’

Barney Barrett 'Down the Plughole'

Barney Barrett ‘Down the Plughole’

D. S. Ketelby 'The Birth of Birds'

D. S. Ketelby ‘Giving Birth to Birds’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Phlip Douch, ‘Trog and Kron attempt to Refuel’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevlin reading John's 'Youre Very Beautiful'

Kevlin reading John Holland’s ‘Youre Very Beautiful’

 

Our commiserations to John Holland who couldn’t make it on the night but whose story ‘You’re Very Beautiful’ was read by Kevlin with such mesmerising intensity it looks to me as if John’s shadow (or maybe his alien alter ego) was with us in the room.

Thanks as ever to Southbank Club who provided the ideal venue and to Sally for bringing along the portable atmosphere!

 

 

This was our fourth story Sunday since last we began on a misty night last November, so a good time to thank everyone who has read for us this year.

We are off to give ourselves a pat on the back and decide when and what our next event will be. Thanks to last night, I think there are a few more sci-fi fans in this neck of the woods.

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Apocalypse? Miaow!

Logging out.

And thanks again for all the birds, robots, eggs and (recurrent theme) very startled cats.

 

The Rest of the Bristol Litfest

Although we’re focused on The Twilight Zone, our members are making best use they can of the rest of our lovely Bristol Litfest. Here are a few events we’re involved in or can recommend.

Friday 21st, 7 pm
The Flash Slam at 51 Stokes Croft

Five local writing groups ‘compete’ to come up with the best flash fiction (up to 200 words) on the night. Last year’s event was a riot (almost!) This year Gail, Jean and Jo with friends Louise Gethin and Gavin Watkins will represent us as Writers Unhinged. Come and support us – or any of the rest!

Saturday Oct 22nd, 3 – 4pm
Ancient Egyptian Storytelling at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Four local authors, including our own Jean,  will read original stories inspired by the myths and mysteries of Ancient Egypt. Should be atmospheric!  No tickets, just turn up.

scwritersSaturday 22nd, 7 – 11 pm
Talking Tales, Left Bank, 128 Cheltenham Road

A first outing at this event for Ali Bacon. Natalie Melling who read at  Midsummer Madness is also reading.  Come along to calm them down and cheer them on. Live music as well as prose and poetry! Presented by Stokes Croft Writers

On Sunday it’s The Twilight Zone!

Yes, it’s us, As if you didn’t know. Southbank Club Bedminster from 6 – 8 pm. Tickets £5 on the door.

Thursday Oct 27th, 2 – 4.30pm
Making History Workshop

Royal West of England Academy: Tickets: £20  

A workshop aimed at those interested in historical writing – that’s at least two of us! With Mike Manson and Lucienne Boyce. Looking forward to it 🙂

Finally, for those for whom the Twilight Zone will never be enough, this one’s unmissable!

Saturday 29th October,  2pm to 3.15pm
Science and Science Fiction: Versions of the Future, Mercure Brigstow, Welsh Back, BS1 4SP . Tickets £5.

Science Fiction writers and Scientists bring you near-future stories designed to provoke lively debate

Of course this is a pitifully small selection of everything going on in Bristol in the next few weeks.

Make sure you check out http://unputdownable.org/ for all the other goodies – and do it quickly, some are selling out!

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The Twilight Zone approaches

Yes, at 6pm next Sunday you can enter a world of mesmerising and mind-bending stories read by their writers. Our call for submissions has been the best yet and in a break with tradition we at WU are standing aside in favour of a full programme of guest writers. Our line-up includes not only star local writer/performers but also newcomers to the Bristol live-lit scene.

What can you expect if you join us?

  • Anne Corlett‘s award-winning story about space-travel
  • Philip Douch with sci-fi at its most hilarious
  • cosmic shenanigans from Jonty Levine, Barney Barret and Julie Hayman
  • an alien with a roving eye from  John Holland
  • an edgy take on time travel from  Alex Bridge

Sally post-nanoIf you feel the need for something more familiar, Mark Lewis offers boiled sweets (but not as you know them) and you can share an apocalyptic cigarette with Kevlin Henney. Or if far out really is your thing, we have D. S. Ketleby with an avian family saga.

Tickets £5

Doors (and bar) open 5.45.  Mind-altering stories,   6 – 8 pm

Let us – or them – entertain you!

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Next stop: a book launch in Glastonbury

ninatorAs soon as we’re over the #lovehangover event, we’ll be heading off for a very important book launch. Established crime writer and our erstwhile member Nina Milton is launching the third in her Shamanic Mystery Series Beneath the Tor in the centre of Glastonbury on Saturday Feb 27th. Do join us if you can.

Beneath the Tor, published by Midnight Ink (Llewellyn Worldwide), features young Somerset shaman, Sabbie Dare, who enlists the help of the spirit world to fight the dark side of humanity.

All the Shaman Mysteries are set in the beautiful, but sometimes eerie landscape of the Somerset Levels, but Beneath the Tor opens on Midsummer Eve at the top of Glastonbury Tor, where beautiful Alys Hollingberry dies suddenly after dancing the night away. The book has its own cast of Glastonbury characters and examines many of the myths and legends of this mystical town.

IMG_0031The launch will take place at

The Avalon Rooms
at the Glastonbury Experience  (2-4 High Street BA6 9DY)
2pm on Saturday 27th February

All Nina Milton’s books will be available at a special launch price.

Ronald Hutton, professor of history at Bristol University, and author of Pagan Britain will give a talk on shamanism today, and Nina Milton will give readings of her work and sign copies of her books.

Complimentary refreshments will be served and blues guitarist Arthur Billington will provide acoustic music. All book lovers are invited, and admission is free.

Born in Bristol, Nina has been writing since she could hold a pen, and holds an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

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Nina with her first Sabbie Dare novel

She began her writing career when she was awarded the Wells Festival of Literature Short Story Prize. She returned to the prize-giving in 2015 to talk about what can happen after winning. Milton Nina Milton is also a Druid with shamanic training. “Druidry takes me close to the earth and into the deep recesses of my mind. Shamanic techniques help me in my life – in fact  they changed my life.”

If you’re a reader or writer, Nina will be happy to chat to you at the Launch Event; “I love talking about my passion, writing,” she says. “Talking about it makes a break from the actual writing!”

Here are some reviews of her books:

Embark on Nina Milton…and you won’t stop reading…

Naomi Lewis, Sunday Observer

Nina Milton has created a unique fictional world in her Shaman Mystery Series, featuring Sabbie Dare as a young shaman. With Beneath the Tor  she passed the ultimate test of a writer, that of causing me to put off useful jobs which I really should have been doing, in order to see what happens next. She has become a mistress of plot-weaving, and above all, she pulls off the trick of setting the totally fantastic amid the totally everyday and making the two fit together with pace and excitement…

Ronald Hutton, author of Pagan Britain and The Triumph of the Moon.

This third mystery of the series hits the ground running. I read the book straight through with only some sleep in between. It’s not necessary to have read the first two to read this one. Wonderful mix of modern grit and ancient magic…

Chesapeake Reader Amazon.com review, December 2, 2015

Sabbie Dare is the most compelling protagonist I’ve met this year, and Milton’s tale is riveting…the visceral suspense Milton creates is commendable, not to mention terrifying. I like pairing her work with Elly Griffiths’s atmospheric English mysteries

…Library Journal

Milton puts an intriguing New Age spin on the traditional English mystery

…Publisher’s Weekly

Nina’s Backlist

In the Moors, 2013
Unraveled Visions, 2014
Beneath the Tor 2016

Milton’s books for older children, Sweet’n’Sour (HarperCollins) and Tough Luck (Bristol Publishers ThornBerry) were both set in Bristol.

She has a long track record as a short story writer, winning the Wells Literary Festival Short Story Prize among others.

And some of Nina’s most recent short stories can of course be read in our own Unchained Anthology.

Contact:

email kitchentablewriters@live.com and learn more about her writing at http://kitchentablewriters.blogspot.com