The Jack Moss trophy was won this year by Susan Perkins for Nice Cup of Tea? in which she explored the history of our national beverage and appealed for everyone to consider the conditions endured by many tea pickers. Ethically sourced tea is widely available these days from organisations such as the Rain Forest Alliance and under the Fair Trade label.
Adjudicator John Lee, who’d given us an amusing account of his career in education and marvelled at how a retired physicist had been chosen to judge the competition entries,went on to award second place to Phil Cook. Phil’s Down With Holidays, a very tongue in cheek rant about the horrors of planning, preparation and travel, not to mention the frustrations often encountered at holiday destinations, struck a chord with us all.
A more serious piece took third place. Out Of Africa was a memoir by Joe Peters that interwove his own experience of teaching Afrikaaner children in The Hague with the establishment of the apartheid regime and the imprisonment and unexpected but widely acclaimed release many years later of Nelson Mandela.
John said that he had enjoyed reading all fourteen very different entries for the competition and congratulated the Group on the high standard of writing overall.
The annual award of the President’s Cup is supposed to be a closely guarded secret between the Secretary who adds up the points and the President. This posed quite a dilemma this year and a crafty ruse had to be employed to keep Joe in the dark until the presentation. Congratulations, Mr President!
Plenty of fun and games had taken place before the great moment. After a very tricky seasonal quiz, members read out the Christmas limericks they had composed for the event and then they and their guests were ‘persuaded’ to play Charades.
The buffet to which everyone had contributed was as good as ever and the drinks flowed all evening. Thanks were given to the Committee for organising the event and to the YMCA for taking care of us all year round.
Previously entitled A Hint of History, the competition was judged this time around by Dorothy Penso of York Writers. A regular attender at The Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick, Dorothy gave a fascinating talk in August of this year on Facts and Customs about Death and Funerals. These have changed a great deal since Victorian times and, as a volunteer at York Cemetery and keenly interested in family, social and local history, Dorothy is well placed to know all about them!
Faced with the high standard of entries and wide variety of subject matter, Dorothy admitted that she had had great difficulty in picking the winners. However, a decision had to be made and she awarded the Mary Rawnsley Trophy to Maggie Cobbett for her poignant story The Soldier at the Window, set in the occupied Netherlands towards the end of WW2. Eileen Walters came second with The Silversmith, a true account of the visit to Ripon Cathedral in the 1960s of the craftsman whose first commission had been the silver lectern on the pulpit. Distressed to find it apparently tossed aside during restoration work, he returned later to find it back in pride of place where it belonged. The third placed entry was The War Games by Alma Williams, further details of which are currently unavailable and will be added later.
It was almost all change this evening. After nine years on the Committee – three as Secretary, three as Vice Chair and three as Chair, Maggie Cobbett gave her final report and retreated gratefully to the back benches.
Joe Peters took over as President, leaving Audrey Blackburn free to take the Chair. Jan Maltby was elected Vice Chair and replaced as Secretary by Peter Page. Cathy Grimmer will continue as Treasurer and Susan Perkins will act as Members’ Member.
The formal business of the evening concluded, a lively discussion ensued about what members would like to see on next year’s programme. Watch this space!
The feature below forms part of the WRITERS’ ROUND-UP page of the December 2013 issue of Writing Magazine/Writers’ News. (Formerly two separate publications, WM and WN are now stapled together.)
One of Maggie’s last acts as Chair was to accept an invitation to drive over to Pateley Bridge and speak to this flourishing group, some of whose members joined us in June for our Literary Allsorts evening.
There was a wonderful array of refreshments on offer, but – and this will come as no surprise to those who know her best – Maggie had so much to say that she didn’t manage to eat any of it and even let her coffee go cold!
The return visit of Louise Cole from White Rose Media had been eagerly anticipated and the eighteen members present were certainly not disappointed. Louise, speaking without notes, gave us a very lively talk on the nature of self publishing in 2013 and why writers shouldn’t hesitate to give it a try. Some may wish to do so only for limited distribution amongst family members and friends; others hope for a much wider circulation. Pockets of snobbery undoubtedly remain, particularly among some well established authors who fear that their own sales might be affected, but the stigma has largely disappeared. Having said that, there’s no excuse for shoddy work. Drafting, redrafting, editing and critiquing all play a valuable role. These are very important criteria for publishing via Firedance Books, the writers’ co-operative of which Louise is a leading member. Much more information about that initiative can be found at www.firedancebooks.com.
Louise encouraged questions throughout her talk, including during the ‘break’ for refreshments. Such was the enthusiasm that we could have continued for another hour at least. Amongst other things, members were keen to learn about formatting, the difference between Amazon Kindle and Smashwords and the pros and cons of print on demand through an organisation such as CreateSpace. Louise also suggested that we might work together to showcase our work in the form of a regular blog such as WriterLot (www.writerlot.net) or maybe an anthology of members’ fiction.
Unfortunately, time caught up with us, but Louise declared herself willing to answer any email queries and has also supplied the Chair with a list of relevant contacts and websites to be circulated amongst the membership.
As well as leaving us with plenty of food for thought, Louise had brought along a selection of Firedance bookmarks for distribution, a publicity tool well worth bearing in mind for the future! Self publishing a book is relatively simple these days. Expanding one’s readership beyond the immediate circle of family and friends is the hard part!
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