Tag Archives: Elementary Writers

The launch of ‘Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile’.

Today I was lucky enough to attend my friend’s book launch. Jennifer C. Wilson first attended Elementary Writers in 2014 and, as Jen put it today, ‘we were great writing acquaintances’. In the last year, or so, though, we’ve become really great friends, realising that we have a great deal in common.


Jen has an incredible work ethic: ‘Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile‘ is the follow-up to ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London‘. Jen also manages to work full-time as well as running all manner of events as part of The Next Page with Elaine Cusack and Sandy Chadwin.


Today was a wonderful celebration of Jen’s hard work paying off. The room at the Town Wall was full of people who wanted to toast Jen’s success. It was brilliant to hear Jen read from ‘Kindred Spirits‘ as well as having the opportunity to hear her talk about writing during the Q&A.


Jen is already working on the third in the series and, having heard extracts in the writing group, I am already looking forward to that book coming out (and the inevitable party to celebrate its release!).

Congratulations, Jen!

Vic x

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I review my 2016

I really enjoy running the annual reviews, they get wonderful feedback from readers and it’s always a pleasure to spend time with the participants so thanks to everyone who’s taken part this year. Here’s to a wonderful 2017!

Victoria

In 2016, I have had some really cracking professional successes. Noir at the Bar is a real highlight for me, having run two in Newcastle and participated in ones in Harrogate and Edinburgh. I have Graham Smith and Jay Stringer to thank for encouraging me to set up the Newcastle chapter. Special thanks must also go to Jacky Collins – organiser of Newcastle Noir – for assisting me with the running of NatB NE. The turnout for the events in Newcastle has been fantastic and it’s really gathering great support, it’s a really wonderful thing to be involved in. I’m really looking forward to the next one on Wednesday, 22nd February.

My friend Luca introduces me

Elementary Writers continue to go from strength to strength. This year, we’ve released a book – Blood from the Quill – and a pamphlet – Wish You Were Here. We’ve also done performances for Burns Night, Heritage Open Days and Halloween. It is a pleasure to work with such talented writers.

The writers that I’ve worked with as a copy-editor this year have had some great success. I loved going to Chris Ord’s book launch for his excellent novel Becoming and it’s great to see that Nicole Helfrich’s book Descent to Hell has been released internationally. Similarly, it’s great to see Paul McDonagh and Graham Bain‘s books available to buy now.

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Oh, and I started working on my novel again. I’ve written more in the last three months than I have done in six years. That’s a pretty good feeling. The feedback I’ve had from performing extracts and sharing the work has been awesome and has really spurred me on to actually finish it. It’s not easy but I’m actually really enjoying spending time with the characters and delving deeper into their lives. A couple of weeks ago, Mike Cockburn of Sogno Ltd did a session with Elementary Writers on Myers-Briggs Personality Types and that’s given me a lot of food for thought.

Personally, I’ve also had one of the best years of my life. The Boy Wonder and I moved into our first house together in August and, on 14th November in Oman, he asked me to marry him! I honestly couldn’t be happier.

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It was a true thrill going to see my dad be awarded an MBE for services to welfare reform and charity. It was such a special day, going to Buckingham Palace with my parents and brother to see my dad’s hard work rewarded. I’ve never felt so proud in my life. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea at the Grosvenor Hotel in London afterwards.

A very proud day

In other news, I finally hit my Slimming World target as well as being nominated – and winning – Woman of the Year and Miss Slinky at my group. I’ve made some great friends at the group and I will continue to go in order to control my weight.

Favourite film by a country mile was GhostbustersI didn’t want to see it as I was worried it would be a disappointed but I loved it. Kate McKinnon is my hero!

I’ve read so many fantastic books this year in a range of genres. I loved Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories which was a collection of his favourite chilling tales. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert was a real inspiration – any creative person should read this fantastic book. I read my first ever Agatha Christie this year and I’m proud to boast that I guessed who was responsible for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd very early on. The Yellow Wallpaper was an utter revelation. There are loads of other wonderful books that have stayed with me this year – you can check them out on my Goodreads page.

That has got to be Formation by Beyonce although I have been known to sing it as ‘Ok, ladies, now let’s get information’. The Boy Wonder and I went to see Hans Zimmer Live and that concert just took my breath away. Seeing him perform the music from The Dark Knight as well as being introduced to The Electro Suite and other incredible compositions has stayed with me ever since.

At the start of 2016, I’d been made redundant and a house purchase had fallen through. That was not a great start but since then, I’ve never looked back. Looking outward, I’m devastated by the events all over the world. Syria, the US election, the EU referendum in Britain and the fallout have just been terrifying. Every year, I worry that we – as humans – are losing touch with humanity. I can’t believe the way people are behaving towards one another – usually because of difference. That’s just heartbreaking.

My resolutions for 2017 are too try not to over-commit. I get very excited by the opportunities offered to me and find it difficult to say no but sometimes that negatively impacts on me.

I’m hoping 2017 will be a better year for people. I really hope we can find a way to work together to bring about positive change in the world – regardless of difference.

Review of 2016: Emma Whitehall

It’s with great pleasure that I host Emma Whitehall on the blog today. Emma has become an integral part of Elementary Writers over the past twelve months and her performance at ‘The Visitation’ at Old Low Light was phenomenal. 

Thanks for taking the time to reflect on your 2016 and sharing your thoughts with us, Emma. 

Vic x

Emma Whitehall

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2016?
This would probably be getting my modern North East-based take on The Little Mermaid story published in Holdfast magazine in February. ‘Where the People Are’ is one of my favourite things that I’ve written this year, and I’m so proud of it. It came about from a weird brainstorming session with some friends, and started off as a joke. But, as I played about with the idea in my head, things just fell into place. Seeing it in print, with its own illustration, was incredible.

Emma and I with Moira Conway at the launch of Blood from the Quill

And how about a favourite moment from 2016 generally?
I’ve loved becoming a part of Elementary Writers. I have lots of friends who write, but they are mostly spoken word performers, or poets. Having a chance to connect with people who write in the same prose-based style as me – even meeting people who work in the same genres I do – has been amazing.

Emma has become an integral part of Elementary Writers

That one is writing related, so here’s a bonus moment. I got to watch my oldest friend get married at a beautiful service in Hexham. She’s an incredible person, and I’m so proud of her and her new husband. I cried through the entire service!

Favourite book in 2016?
I thought about this one really hard! The most powerful book I’ve read this year is Death at Seaworld, by David Kirby. I was deeply moved by the plight of Tilikum, the subject of the documentary Blackfish, and this book talks in depth about the history of orcas in captivity. There’s also a lot of fascinating information about the social lives of wild orcas – which makes the causes of Tilikum’s violence all the more tragic. It’s a deeply sad situation – but one that deserves to be known about.

Favourite film in 2016?
The VVitch was a brilliant piece of gothic cinema. It was beautifully shot, and managed to keep the tension tight without resorting to jump scares. The end sequence looked like it came fully formed out of my imagination – I was shaking my boyfriend’s arm with excitement at the gorgeously dark visuals!

Favourite song of the year?
My Shot
, from Hamilton. I’ve become a devout fan of writer/composer/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda this year. Lin is passionate, intelligent, creative, and driven – everything I aspire to be. His entire portfolio is amazing, but My Shot has a special place in my heart. It’s a song about seizing your chances, about determination and ambition. If I’m ever in a funk, or feeling down, or even just being lazy during my morning writing sessions, I blast this song, and I always get something done.

Any downsides for you in 2016?
The major downside of this year is the fact I was unable to get a mortgage, due to my circumstances at work. I was bitterly disappointed, but I’m using the time to save up, and to advance my writing career prospects.

Are you making resolutions for 2017?
I’m not sure yet. I feel like I have made great strides in my personal and professional life this year, and I just want to keep that up! I would like to get back into my swimming, which tailed off around the summer holidays. I want to keep becoming more disciplined in my day-to-day life, as well – my bullet journal has helped with that, so I will be using that well into the new year.

What are you hoping for from 2017?
I’ve actually just started up a mini-business (Emma Whitehall – Professional Feedback – find me on Facebook!), where I offer bespoke help and feedback to writers on their works in progress. My biggest hope is that this takes off the way that I hope that it will – I love writing, and I want to use the experience I have gathered over the last four years to help my peers. I know so many wonderful, talented writers who are nervous about sending out their work to magazines, and if I can help them achieve their goals, while managing to work as a professional in my field, then I’ll be happy for 2017.

You can find out more about Emma at her website and you can also follow her on Twitter.