Despite my Somerset postcode I stole into the monthly meeting of The Devon Authors Group this morning in Tiverton to find a warm welcome and an exciting group of writers working many genres. And the ‘Back Room’ of The Independent Coffee Shop is a comfortable place to meet, not to mention their mouth watering refreshments.

I already feel a new focus on my novel in progress: The Register Of Joe’s Trees. It is sharpening pencils time.  I’m looking forward to future meetings.

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NFP July 2018Good to see my play PLACE OF REFUGE on stage for New Forest Players 90th Anniversary Winners’ Week, one of six performed, a third evening performance during a very hot week which limited audience numbers.

A very strong performance was put in by two young actors earlier in the day in LA Green’s CLOTHES MAKETH THE MAN, a thought provoking two hander of two siblings, sisters, facing up to one’s gender transitioning.

“Once I had two sisters, now I have a sister and a brother.”

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The New Forest Players are celebrating their ninety years of theatrical performance this week following their playwriting competition with six one act plays, three for a younger audiences, three for older audiences.

My play PLACE OF REFUGE is one of the competition winners. The play follows one of  the four young refugees smuggled into the country in a lorry, escaping when the lorry delivers packaging material to a West Country milk factory. Discovered in a garden shed, the family of retired farm worker, Reuben, his daughter, Carol, who works at the milk factory and his student granddaughter, Julia, whose boyfriend is the local policeman, PC Thorne, reflect the opposing sympathies and opinions of a local community on what should happen to Ahmed.

Should he be surrendered for prompt deportation to whatever his fate in Afghanistan or given a chance to educate himself and maybe return to his country in the future to contribute from strength.

I will be at New Milton on Saturday 21st July to see all six plays on their third day of performance.

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Fun to be had on 11th July. I will have to face the Chudleigh Writers’ Circle ‘Dragons’ with a competitive opportunity to pitch my current WIP novel, JOE’S BEECH (aka The Register of Joe’s Trees), the story of a teenage girl, Alice Hallett, whose 1943 affair with Joe Carew, a US airman stationed in Bramlesham, Suffolk, ends in tragedy when Joe’s plane does not return from a bombing mission.

Decades later Joe Carew’s grandson, Joe III, researching his grandfather’s wartime service, visits Suffolk. Alice and Joe III’s paths cross to weave an emotional tale linking Bramlesham, UK with Rapid City, South Dakota.

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I’m a little ahead of myself; through the heat of June days, July is approaching. For me it will be an exciting month on the writing front. In the third week of July the New Forest Players are celebrating their ninetieth anniversary. Last year they ran a short play competition to mark the occasion. NFP will be staging six short plays, three for younger generations and three for an older audience.

My play, A PLACE OF REFUGE is one of those being performed. I wish the company well and look forward to seeing the plays on stage. My play follows the hours after four young Afghan refugee stowaways escape from a lorry delivering to an English factory. Three are taken into custody, one escapes to hide in a garden shed where he is discovered by the retired farmworker cottage owner. The play follows the exchanges, differing opinions and emotions between the members of the family living at the cottage, father, daughter and student granddaughter, whose boyfriend is a local policeman.

Another excitement arises for me with the Dorchester Literary Festival Writing Competition for books privately published by West Country authors in the last three years, fiction, non-fiction, poetry or short stories. The original entry was longlisted down to seven books. Requiem for Private HughesMy novel REQUIEM FOR PRIVATE HUGHES was on that list and I was thrilled to find out earlier in June that it had made the shortlist of three now being finally judged. The winner will be announced at a gathering on 12th July after those shortlisted have been interviewed by Kate Adie, a Patron of the Dorchester Literary Festival, and have read a short extract of their work. Fingers crossed and all best to my fellow shortlisted writers.

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Now we are in mid-summer of hot and still long days, but just minutes shorter day by day. Many birds have fledged from their nests setting out on their task of building up their strength and weight to get through the winter months, either by migration over large distances or short down journeys from the hills to the valleys, leaving a small band that see the year through come storm and blizzard in their same location.

Our House Martin saga is a little better than we had feared, there are martins in the locality, but only a few, on occasion they visit swooping past, even some evenings flying up to our eaves, looking at last year’s nests, now mostly broken. But there is no pair of martins nesting on the house.

It has happened before, long years with no nests, then years building back up to last year’s squadron, many broods departing in the autumn for Africa.


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… continues. After many blank days – and reports around the country of the lack of swifts, swallows and martins this summer – a pair of martins were here on Friday fluttering up to eaves, checking last years nests, both the bird made and man made nests. They were here for a few hours, but sadly four days later have not been seen again. At least there is a pair here in West Somerset, even if they have moved on.

Writing WIP has progressed with short story submissions – Yeovil Prize and Bridport have both closed at the end of May. Research continues on my novel set, in part, in wartime Battersea. The Wandsworth Historical Society have produced a DVD of their publications in recent years and is proving a rich source of wartime background facts.

Good news for me last month was getting onto the longlist of the Dorchester Literary Festival Writing Prize with my novel Requiem for Private Hughes. Fingers crossed for the shortlist later this month – all best to the seven of us who will become three!

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