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Welcome to our blog, the casual voice of the Sheppey Writer’s Group.

Important!

We have changed our meetings venue to The Sheerness East Working Man’s Club on Queenborough Road, Halfway at 2pm to 4pm on the Second Tuesday of each month.  although times may be subject to change. All writers are welcome, and also welcome to contact us through Facebook or of course this blog site.

The Zradian Chronicles

James Apps – on his own work.

According to my last entry I was reading volume one of the Zradian Chronicles and enjoying it very much even if I did write it myself. I was about to embark on reading volume two and now I have read all three.  I enjoyed following my characters through the story, laughed at the jokes I had put in, felt the fear and triumphs of Julian and Angela and winced at times at the nastiness of the corrupt President.

As a writer, you do get involved in your story, and you all think that it is the best tale ever told at times. At other times you feel like apologising for what is a weak and trite tale. However, it is your baby, yours to bring to maturity and your responsibility.  You have a responsibility to give your reader entertainment, a story that appeals, a duty to get things right and and to make sure that when you edit the text you also make sure you iron out the typos, the spelling mistakes and language.

Hence, following the last paragraph, I am reading through the book again with editor’s eyes to weed out the errors I have made – yes, I picked a few out which means I will find more. One character has no place in the tale so he will have to go and there are a few little situations that can do with a little attention. I have the time now we are in Lockdown.

However, in conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed what I was reading. For those of you who are not that interested in Sci Fi – be not afraid, the story is a comedy rather than Sci Fi – I am not a fan of serious Sci -Fi, more Douglas Adams  – I like a bit of fun in my reading.

 

What’s wrong with that? – reading your own book

The Reluctant Hero – Book One of The Zradian Chronicles.

I picked up the trilogy and looked at the cover, and with some amusement I thought I would read it. Imagine my surprise when I found I was drawn into the story, and found much to amuse me. The characters play their parts and I was impressed with the differences and contrasts between them, how they interact and how their attitudes and personalities are captured.

The IMG_0002.jpgconcept of a despotic, vicious President of an alien people deciding that his people needed more living space because his perception that his world is no longer habitable for much of its territory is basically the premise of the tale. The Planet Zrad, somewhere near the Dog Star with its millions of inhabitants is in constant turmoil. The President’s evil Dog Squads, the official assassins, the Political and Social Police (POLISOCS) plus his elite Stormtroopers are vehemently opposed by the Zradian Rebel Army (ZRA) guided by the New Moral Few.  Working with them but mostly despised by the Rebel Army (who are men) is the Women’s Rebel Army (WRA) who, fed up with being consigned to work as clerics, washerwomen and other service areas, took up arms in their own right.

This is the story of how Julian Renfrew and Angela Breen (a good Christian girl) become involved in the wars on the planet Zrad and influence its invasion of Earth. It tells of how Julian, a no hoper, amateur arsonist, back slider, abject coward, liar with a puffed up image of his own ability is forced to cope with becoming a useful, if reluctant warrior in the WRA. It tells also of how Angela has to come to terms with her own true nature and wrestles with her Christian ethics.

The pair become involved with the Zradian conflict and the reader becomes familiar with the concept of Pairs – people born as twins but acting as one person – and the dynamic fighting spirit of their hosts.

This volume also deals with how the Earth and its inhabitants cope with the early rumours of invasion as explained by Professor Arthur Renfrew (Julian’s father) who discovers the appearance of a Zradian Star Station orbiting around Jupiter. Of course, nobody listens or takes him seriously but in the early stages of the Zradian Invasion very little happens to back him up.  His unfortunate reply to a question about what the aliens looked like was ridiculed when he casually mentioned “little green men”.

Undermining the whole Zradian project is the President’s hurry to get it started on his birthday and the corrupt practices of the main engineers, C & D Enterprises. To solve a problem they build a robot and send it into a rodent infested Star Station used as a working model – the problem was why the spaces they sent in to work on the systems did not return or do their work – the robot found the reason; the ravenous rodents saw them as food. The robot. made up from dysfunctional and incompatible parts adapted for the purpose was left to do all the minor tasks, and bored out of its brain, it adopted the rodents for company, searched for entertainment and found Alfred Hitchcock’s Psyhco and the song A Whiter Shade of Pale and liked them.

The Robot’s last contact with its makers, Clard and Dracl of C&D, was as the Pair closed the transfer port and urged it not to be afraid of the rodents, a mantra that rattled around in its vast intelligence driving it mad. It decided to take its family to live in the Amazon basin on Earth, and realised it had to protect its family from the threat of the Doomsday Bomb its own people had set in orbit around the Earth. Its solution was to wage an electronic and digital war with the President.

I am looking forward to reading volume two.

Oh yes, I know I wrote the book but it was like a fresh read of a story I had not read before – what’s wrong with that?

 

Revival movement

What is happening?

Recent events have changed the Sheppey Writers Group, if not completely but enough to stir us up a little. This year, 2019, we tried a monthly meeting of writers at the Rose Cottage of Curiosities in Rose Street Sheerness. The idea was to explore methods of writing prose and poetry, creating a discussion group with the intention of forming a core group of writers willing to read or perform.

The result was that we have decided to form the Rose Cottage Society of Poets (or change the title if we think we need to) meeting on the last Wednesday of the month at 7 pm. The objective is to form a group of poets who will launch themselves on the the local society and wider to read an recite poetry.

This group is in addition to the Writers Group but will complement it.

The Napier Pub is closing so the 3rd of December was the last meeting there of the group  which means we will be searching for a new afternoon meeting place. Watch the Facebook space and the new site courtesy of Ed Currie.  Ed is providing a site that will  act as a hub for arts and crafts on the Isle of Sheppey.

Isle-arts

 

As for events and such; the last one this year will be Christmas Readings at the Rose Cottage of Curiosities on 13th December at 7pm. Some refreshments will be available.

Stories heard

We listen to other people or we talk with them and hear what they have to say. From those conversations, stories overheard or snatches of conversation caught as we travel about we can cobble up some tales. We may change them for dramatic effect or to save our source embarrassment but we tell the tales adding to the richness of our culture in many ways. Sometimes we gather information or impressions that help to build characters, giving us insights into human nature or a means of widening our understanding. Whatever we do with the data whether in prose or verse hopefully, we will produce something entertaining for our readers. The story below was extracted from a tale told to me recently. Names and situation are changed to protect the person involved.

A Rose Garden.

Diana always insisted on walking through the rose gardens. Ramona, following her, as usual, complained about walking up the hill to reach them. It was all right for Diana, she was fit and light on her feet and walked every day. Ramona felt her wobbling belly moving from side to side, her breasts trying to force their way out of her bra, and that uncomfortable rubbing of her thighs forcing her to waddle. She was losing weight but too slowly and the walks her friend suggested although probably doing her good were killing her. Diana insisted they walk to the shops and loaded with their bags, walk back. Normally she would take a taxi. Both ways. But she had promised and Diana; dear Diana, had taken her at her word.
“What both ways?”
“Yes, both ways and up the hills too. You can do with the exercise.”
That was the trouble with Diana, she took things seriously and there was no escape. Ramona was obese. Fat, Diana said and likely to get even fatter if she ate any more fish and chips. Which was not a nice thing to say. What clinched it for her was the rude doctor who explained that being so fat was the reason she was diabetic.
“Can I get some medicine for it?”
“We can give you something but you have to drastically reduce your weight and take some exercise. Medication will help but you have to do the rest.” The Doctor looked at her with a steady, accusing gaze and added. “If you do not, and I see here you are only forty-seven, you will not make your fiftieth birthday.”
He didn’t have to be so blunt.
And Ramona struggling now behind Diana as they climbed the slope wished it would all go away. She used to be a normal shape like Diana. Well almost. She always had large boobs and a fat bum but apart from her thighs, she was normal. They reached the top of the slope and Diana led the way into the gardens, and as usual, wandered past the bed of English roses. Ramona tried not to sniff the scent which set off her hay fever. She loved Diana who cared for her even when she had a man friend. She was always standing up for her and when Diana’s father passed away Ramona was there to comfort her. It was nice to return some of her friend’s kindness.
Panting from the effort of the climb she caught up with Diana who stood beside one of the beds.
“My Dad loved these gardens,” she said smiling.
“Yes, you always tell me that.”
“I know I do but he did love them. Best thing the council ever did, he always said.”
“Why do we always come this way?”
“So I can remember my father and you get the exercise walking up hills. You used to have to stop a lot but now you made it all the way.”
“I’m knackered.”
“Puffing and blowing yes but you’ll be all right Mona.”
Diana touched one of the blooms and then with a toss of her head moved on.
“Goodbye Daddy,” she said as they walked on.
“Why do you always say that Di?”
“I always feel my father is here,” she said.
As they plodded down the slope Ramona had a thought and asked: “Di, what did you do with your father’s ashes?”
Diana looked at her friend and smiled archly.
“Oh, quite simple. I scattered them in a place he loved,” she said.
Ramona gasped and glanced back the way they had come.

 

 

Once Upon A Time…

Hi everyone I would like to invite you all to enjoy my stories!

As many of you know my first book “A Fistful Of Fur”! has been on sale since December 2018 and on April 20th I have a book signing @Waterstones Ashford ( I will also be appearing on Radio Ashford to discuss my book on the 15th April @08.30).

I have a Book Signing coming up @WHSmith Maidstone, it’s being discussed for the 30th March but I will confirm that soon!

It would be fantastic if anyone would like to pop along for a chat etc!

I will be going across the pond at some point to attend book signings and events based on my book so there is really lots happening!

I would at times, like to put up on here some short story’s and news about my book/s! Although a published author I have very bad spelling and grammar so please bare with me as I try to check my posts before I chuck ’em out there!

Richard

X

What has happened?

Since the last posts added to the site the group has added some new books to its fold and is working on an Anthology relating to the 2018 Sheppey Promenade theme “Women in WW1” commemorating the centenary of the end of the Great War. The subject was the role of women in WW1, in particular the Suffragettes and their struggle for women’s franchise.

I have to say that we struggled with the themes in 2014 and 2018 to a point but as an exercise it worked and we have produced a body of work with contributions from local writers. This will be produced as a book on sale later this year.

In addition to this effort intend to produce a book of Christmas stories.

The group will likely be running meetings at least once a month at the Rose Cottage of Curiosities in Sheerness – possibly on a Monday. We will have more news on this later during the year.

There is a move toward doing more readings and performances – going back to the days when we did a few more public appearances.

As editor of the site I will keep you up to date.

Flight of Fancy

What happens when some silly bugger says “I know, let’s make a movie” with an eager look that shows he has already made up his mind to go ahead?

poster

Poster distributed for the movie

You end up writing scripts, acting out parts, worrying about the deadline you have set for it to be complete and ready to show and hoping that it works. The movie Flight of Fancy by Sheppey Writers was a response to the 2016 Sheppey Promenade theme Flight.

In the meantime we also arranged the Readings in a Country Church as part of the Promenade Festival and of course continued writing short stories, poems and some continuing to write novels. That does not mean to say we stood still although with a little confusion and some thoughtful deliberation we are also changing our meeting times and venue. The new times are 8pm on 1st Tuesday and at 2:30pm on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at The Napier in Sheerness. The 2:30 meeting will be for readings and discussion and the 8pm meeting will be mostly for discussion with readings.

All writers are welcome to this former haunt of Uwe Johnson.

So, what about the movie?

Flight of Fancy, the movie, used original work by Sheppey Writers, stories adapted by Sheppey Writers and an eyewitness account of a raid on the Eastchurch RAF Airfield during WWII. Ranging from the flight of James II through a WWI account of a German Gotha raid, the story of early flight, poems and a comic tale to end with the WWII tale and a tribute to those who gave their all, the movie has a small insight into the history of flight on Sheppey.

Thanks to Larry O’Flynn for the use of his public bar, the Swale College Media Studies Class fro their contribution, Jack Bee and Sheppey FM for support and readings, and for Cllr. Mark Ellen who contributed a voice and some funds to help us pay for the work.

As for the bloke who suggested it – he worked hard, had to face deadline that was almost impossible given he had to do most of the production, and all of the post-production work. Peter Apps, whose idea it was, and wilfully encouraged by myself, and more or less supported by the rest of the writers’ group.

That we needed to rehearse readings before filming never occured to us, or that a Green Screen may have worked for one movie but was not the best in these conditions, or that filming live in a bar was not as easy as it seemed, but it got done on time.

Undaunted we are now contemplating making more movies and telling stories and reading poems in our own program on Sheppey FM radio.

In addition to publishing books for local authors, we are doing all right.

Visit Sheppey Films for information about Flight of Fancy and other movies.

 

 

Christmas Carols

Sam the Scam looked at the crowd around Tiny Tim and Orphan Annie and was well pleased. He could see the punters putting their spare change in the hat behind which Little Oliver was sitting playing his flute. Tiny Tim’s crutch was just the right sort, modern yet it looked like its Victorian counterpart. All three looked mildly malnourished.

The kids were doing all right singing and playing Christmas songs, all the old favourites and especially when Tiny Tim sang Once in Royal David’s City; it was a real treat to hear his sweet voice burbling out the words with Orphan Annie backing him softly and Oliver playing the melody so tunefully. Even better was when the coins kept slapping into the hat.
Sam looked across the mall and caught Maisie’s casual glance.
All clear.

Orphan Annie gave them a rendering of Silent Night and the trio finished with a good rousing Hark the Herald Angels Sing and just in time because Maisie signalled to roll it up. Sam walked past the little group and swiftly the youngsters packed away and moved on. Sam was proud of them when they stayed in character until they were outside where he and Maisie caught up. Sam took the money and shook it into his copious shoulder bag, and the little troupe hurried away. Sam figured they were at least one step away from being nicked, but it was working.

‘Right, we move on folks,’ Sam said, and guided his little flock to a spot where he and Maisie could keep a look out and the escape route led them to the car.

The Christmas shoppers were generous this year so it seemed but the authorities were not so keen and to help out Maisie had cobbled up a pretty poster declaring that they were collecting for charity which explained the costumes and names. The punters seemed to like that.

‘And what charity are you subscribing to Sonny?’ Asked a gentleman dressed in an expensive looking overcoat, and a smart hat carrying who was prepared to give a note.

‘It’s for a children’s Christmas party sir,’ said Oliver.
The man beamed at him and put the note in the hat and patted him on the head.
‘Good boy, good boy,’ the Gentleman said.
‘Thank you sir,’ said Oliver giving the gentleman a smile. ‘And a Merry Christmas to you sir.’

‘He’s learning,’ muttered Sam. Oliver hated being patted on the head and detested being called Sonny. Sam chuckled as Oliver picked up the flute and managed a surreptitious two fingered gesture as he began to play.
Maisie gave the warning partway through God Save Ye Merry Gentlemen and with a quick pip on his instrument Oliver stopped playing and they all packed up and moved off.

‘To the car and off,’ Maisie said. ‘We been bleedin’ rumbled.’
What happened next will stick in Sam’s mind for the rest of his ‘bleedin’ natural’. He operated the lock with the remote, they piled in and he started the engine turned the wheel to move off and scraped to a clunking stop. Sam got out and looked at the rear offside wheel.
‘Bloody clamped!’
And coppers.
There was a gang of police officers in uniform. One inviting Maisie to alight and others ordering the kids out.
‘Bugger,’ said Sam. ‘We been nicked.’
Afterwards, when the nightmare was over, Sam the Scam had to agree that the Beak had a point. But to see all his hard earned cash wasted like that was a heartache too much for any man to bear.
‘Samuel, my good man,’ said Sergeant Burrows grinning broadly as he helped Sam with the hat and the false beard, ‘on behalf of the Salvation Army and my lads and lassies in your friendly local police force, I would like to thank you for your generous donation of time and money to what is a most worthy cause.’

But playing Santa for a crowd of noisy kids, being forced to hand over the day’s takings and his own brood and Maisie acting as bloody skivvies, was not his idea of fun.

Sam knew he was sunk when as they were ushered into the court room who should be on the bench but the gentleman in the expensive overcoat.

‘Ah mister Cooper, it seems we must meet again. I suggest the punishment fit the crime,’ he announced and that was it.

‘Do it proper Samuel and you get your motor back,’ said Burrows.
He Ho ho ho’d almost enthusiastically, put up with a procession of small children expecting him to be nice. Most humiliating of all he had to witness his little troupe of singers perform for free.
It was heartbreaking.

Driving back home after the party the family was silent until Tiny Tim said: ‘I got an idea.’

And at last, making up for their recent losses performing in a shopping mall near you Sam the Scam’s small troupe of Salvation Army look-a-likes will sing well known hymns and Christmas Carols for your delectation.

And naturally, at this joyful season of the year, the proceeds will go to a worthy, and deserving cause.