Tuesday, 16 March 2010

When I started this blog my ambition was to post every week, or even twice a week, but work always seems to catch up with me, leaving me wondering what has happen to the previous week.
On 8 March I attended the SWWJ Southern Regional meeting held at Chichester, and after enjoying meeting and greeting fellow writers we settled down to a most interesting morning discussion on amongst other topics, the value of writing competitions, should writers specialise, query letters, and the state of the market in general. After a lunch break in Chichester and another opportunity to network, we were treated to an excellent short story workshop run by the the award winning crime writer Peter Lovesey, who seems to have picked up as many awards as he has written books. His gentle approach managed to get us working and several came away with the bones of a short story, including me. I'm afraid this will be on 'the back burner' until Haunted Worthing is safely with The History Press with deadline looming around the corner.
Following on from this meeting I agreed to talk at Selsey Writers on 6 July 2010 about using Myths and Legends as a source for material, which I have used in both fiction and non-fiction. I am looking forward to an enjoyable afternoon and meeting new friends. All my books on regionals in Wales have a chapter on folklore, and it is a subject that fascinates most readers.
Unfortunately a day away from the computer means several days back in front of the screen trying to catch-up, but I am pleased to say that Haunted Worthing is taking shape with several places lined up to be visited in the next week.
Yesterday was the SWWJ Council meeting, which are always held in London. We have some very exciting events coming up shortly which I will be post as they come up. If you are a writer and not a member of the SWWJ do visit our website and consider joining. Do also look at our events page. I certainly would not be the writer I am today without the help and advice of the SWWJ.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

As writers we often find ourselves in the unique position of meeting amazing people, or visiting fascinating places of interest. Yesterday I had the great pleasure of doing both. A visit to St Mary's House and gardens at Bramber West Sussex is one of those places that anyone remotely interested in history must visit. The origins of St Mary's date back to the days of the Knights Templar when the land was given to them by the widow of Philip de Braose. The present building dates to around 1470 when it was used as an Inn by pilgrims on their way to the tomb of St Thomas of Canterbury. The history is absolutely fascinating, but I must jump to 1984 when two extremely talented people purchased the properly, which by then was in very neglected state, and saved St Mary's for future generations to love and enjoy.
Peter Thorogood, author, composer, literary historian and leading authority on the 19th century poet Thomas Hood (1799-1845), and Roger Linton a gifted designer, trained at the Royal College of Art, restorer and conservator have combined their talents and skills to return St Mary's to its former glory. The story of how they set about saving the house and gardens in told in Return to Splendor by Peter Thorogood and obtained from Bramber Press, specialising in publishing books, CD and cassette recordings by authors, composers and performers associated with St Mary's House. Roger Linton's fine work is displayed throughout the house and ranges from the restoration of a four-poster bed to the decorating of the octagonal dining room in the Pre-Raphaelite style to designing and planting the Topiary Garden, featured in a number of television programmes, magazine and newspaper articles.
Obviously such a project needs continuous funding and the enterprising Peter and Roger are always devising ways of keeping their hard work going by organising open days, concerts, private functions, and conferences. They are also licenced for Civil Marriages, which would provide any lucky couple with a perfect setting for that memorable day. I urge anyone visiting my blogspot to arrange a trip to St Mary's soon - see website for opening times - and I promise you will not be disappointed, and I am sure like me you will come away much richer for the experience. Thank you Peter and Roger for sparing me some of your most valuable time, and for a most enjoyable visit.