Thursday, 23 March 2017

Scottish Association of Writers Conference 2017

Members of Erskine Writers were delighted to attend the annual Scottish Association of Writers Conference at the weekend, although our numbers were a little decreased. The wonderful Westerwood Hotel did us proud again, with an endless supply of meals, tea and coffee, as well as delicious fruit drinks and cakes at coffee time.

There was a very good range of workshops and adjudications with something for everyone no matter what our writing interest, including novels, short stories, articles, poetry, inspiration, YA, children’s. Our after-dinner speaker this year was the funny and approachable Helen Lederer who kept us well entertained.

Amongst the competitions, our own Cathie Devitt was commended in the Pitlochry Crime Novel. Well done to Cathie! Myra Duffy and Victoria Gemmell were both adjudicators this year and delivered excellent critiques in their categories, as well as each running a workshop over the weekend. One of our members, Pete Marrison, carved the beautiful trophy shown on the front of the programme! Myra was also on the Dragon’s Pen Panel, for which the trophy was awarded, so our club was well represented.

Roll on next year when we hope to have even more members attending.


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Articles and Poetry

The recent Article Competition was adjudicated by members of the SAW (Scottish Association of Writers) committee and lovely secretary Jen Butler and treasurer Jacqueline Murray came all the way down to Erskine to deliver the welcome results and comments.

Congratulations to all!

Winner                    Peter Morrison
2nd                          Marjory MacKellar
3rd                           Kate Gordon
H. Commended      Wilma Ferguson


Last week, we were delighted to welcome poet and novelist Michael Malone to the group where he delivered a very interesting workshop on poetry.

Using examples from his own and other work, he covered:

  • the human connection and using emotion 
  • finding the right (specific) word 
  • an imaginative use of nouns and verbs
  • the difference between abstract and concrete words and phrases
  • using rhyme carefully - imagery and metaphor can make a difference
  • write poetry regularly - and read it
  • write fast without editing, then go back and find the right word and phrases
  • poetry can misdirect the reader - apparently about one subject but may have a subtext
  • lose empty words like 'was', 'that', 'had'

And now to put it into practise, members should submit their poems to the competition Michael will be judging by Tuesday 7th February.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Celebrating a 90th Birthday!

The other afternoon, several members of Erskine Writers were delighted to attend an Afternoon Tea in celebration of the 90th birthday of one of our long-time members, Kathleen Hammond.

Her family arranged an excellent spread to rival any posh restaurant and people from the various areas of Kathleen's life had been invited to celebrate with her. Along with tea, coffee and beautiful tiers of sandwiches, cakes and scones, we were given a glass of Prosecco or Schloer with which to toast the birthday princess.

A special extra touch was the pretty little individual box with a cup cake inside that was given to each guest to take home. I've posted a few photos I took of some of our members.

Kathleen and her sister Freda
Kathleen receiving flowers at Erskine Writers - taken by D. McGruther

Here's to you, Kathleen, and long may you continue to delight us with your wonderful nostalgic articles about life in a gentler age.


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Looking Forward

A reminder that the writing group restarts for 2017 on Tuesday 10th January with Open Manuscripts to which you can also bring the first chapter of a novel for constructive feedback.

The first workshop of the year will be on 24th January when we look forward to welcoming poet and novelist Michael Malone.

All power to your pens in 2017!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Competition Results and Christmas Goodies

Tuesday saw the writing group's end of session for 2016 and a good time was had by all those who managed to attend the Christmas meeting. As always, there were plenty of yummy goodies to eat and the only problem was knowing when to stop!

We have two competition results to mention - congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all who entered.

Memoir Competition - Adjudicator Brian Whittingham

Highly Commended     The Lamplighter by Myra Duffy
                                     This is About Me by Morag Moffat

Third                             Crocodile Tears by Hilary Stevenson

Second                          Missing by Joan Fleming

Winner                          Birthday party by Kate Gordon

Short Story Competition - Adjudicator Alex Gray

Commended                 Hilary Stevenson

Highly Commended     Elspeth Munro

Third                             Elizabeth Gillespie

Second                         Wilma Ferguson

Winner                          Judith Vallely

Have a great Christmas and we look forward to seeing everyone ready to start writing again on January 10th 2017.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Dinner and Awards 2016

A lovely time was had by all at our new venue this year, the Fox and Hounds in Houston. Thanks to secretary John Spence for organising it. As usual, we began with an afternoon meeting in the beautiful surroundings and each member read a piece of writing about a favourite building.

This was followed by the annual prize giving and once again, it was great to see so many rewarded for their creativity over the year. We then enjoyed a delicious three course dinner and coffee and even the unexpected flurry of snow couldn't dampen our high spirits.

Thank you to Marc R Sherland for all the photos (unless otherwise captioned), to Wilma for making the certificates, and to president Hilary for presenting the following awards. Congratulations to all!

Women’s Short Shory (Quaich)                               

3rd Wilma Ferguson   
2nd Myra Duffy
1st Elspeth Munro

Photo by R Gemmell


Children’s Short Story (EBH)
3rd Morag Moffat
2nd  Kate Gordon
1st Wilma Ferguson


Poetry (Betty Munnoch Award)
3rd Kate Gordon
2nd Myra Duffy
1st Kate Gordon

President’s Cup

Sandra McGruther

Flowers for Hilary!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Short Stories with Alex Gray

Photo by R Gemmell

Our own Alex Gray was tutor for today, advising us on writing a short story. She explained that the beginning has to be interesting enough to make a reader want to find out what happens next. It has to have a central theme in which a character undergoes some form of change and a neat ending that leaves the reader satisfied or even breathless with admiration. In addition, every word has to count.

The opening line will normally dictate whether or not a reader will spend time reading it all the way through. Each of us attempted to write a paragraph which would hook the reader and a variety of stories emerged, ranging from war-torn cities, relationships, memories of family life or work, not forgetting futuristic and fantasy worlds.

After that, into the meat of the story and Sandra used the ‘necklace’ metaphor to help with structuring. The hook is the beginning of the clasp and the beads represent the build-up getting bigger and bigger as the main action of your story emerges then rounding off towards the end of the story and the other end of the clasp with perhaps an echo of how the story started.

Alex guided us through whether or not the story should be written in first person or third person, where the story was set, who the characters were, what was happening, why the characters acted as they did and how a change could come about. And changes there were. We followed her advice to read aloud and edit, edit, edit.

The afternoon finished with Alex reading a story, ‘Madeira Cake’, by Linda Menzies who was placed second in The William Soutar Writing Prize competition 2016.

A very pleasant and informative session.

Wilma Ferguson