Thursday, 21 April 2016

Yer what - £1050 raised at the WforW LitFest Day on 16th April?

By Margaret Graham

How great is that

‘Make it, and they’ll come’ or so Kevin Costner’s film went. Well, we’ve ‘made’ the WforW LitFest for the 2nd year running, at the Downley Community Centre and the audience has come – from as far away at Lyme Regis in Dorset, Salisbury, and London, as well as the immediate vicinity.

It seems that not only is my village of Downley, High Wycombe, building a reputation for hosting arts events, but news of the Words for the Wounded jamborees is on the march.

As founder and administrator, I was, on the day, momentarily tempted to behave, but that became a step too far. With my other two grannies, Jan Speedie and Penny Deacon, plus the Graham family catering team (including honorary Graham, Josh Edwards) we welcomed the audience with Starbucks coffee and the day began.

Matt Pain, a trustee of WforW opened the event, before introducing Elizabeth Buchan, No 1 bestselling author and a patron of WforW. Elizabeth and I chatted about her latest bestseller, the evocative and intriguing I Can’t Begin to Tell You, set in Denmark during the war. It is an intricately plotted novel, and the audience found it inspiring and encouraging to see how this excellent author worked. 

Dick Graham, him indoors, was allowed out for the day to act as taxi driver, though he was refused a uniform because where would it all end?

He swopped Elizabeth at the station for Jemima Hunt, Literary Agent and Editor of The Writers’ Practice who was introduced by Penny. Jemima hammered home the need for editing one’s work. But more than that, she talked about the books and authors she represented, explaining how even memoir needed to be shaped and the core story drawn out, to create a satisfying read.

Lunch was extended this year to 90 minutes. This worked well, and gave more time for chatting networking and buying raffle tickets.

Tracy Baines, the hugely successful genre short story writer swept aside the fug of lunchtime wine by explaining the need to accept rejections and criticism as help, not as a condemnation of the writer as a person, and how important it was to write to a market. She didn’t leave aspiring writers dangling though, but instead loaded her talk with helpful hints. Tracy and I are joining forces to offer a WforW Day Workshop in Short Story Writing on September 24th  at Downley Community Centre.

Catherine Balavage, author, owner and editor of Frost Magazine, spoke of blogging, and how it is necessary to write in a different way for digital magazines. Apart from the universal need to  grab the attention of the reader quickly, she emphasized the importance of images, and keeping the text even more succinct and accessible than usual, as the attention span wavers more than when reading print.  (Please note the plethora of photographs in this blog).

Paul Vates, well known actor and playwright, read excerpts of the speakers’ works before each talk, which really lifted the day, and Sharon Bennett and Julie Winters exhibited their art.

The raffle brought in over £250 thanks to the huge, (honestly) generosity of our own Downley Tesco Express, and MyLocal, and various well known companies, as well as pictures by our guest artists.

Arrow, my publishers, gave free books for the audience.

We are truly grateful to the above and all those who helped to make it such a good day.

The success of the day, and the money raised, will help WforW’s work enormously. We are one of the few charities where the expenses are absorbed by the team, which means that every penny raised goes to where it’s needed.

Such was the interest in Tracy Baines talk, that she has generously agreed to join me in holding a Short Story Day Workshop on 24th September at Downley Community Centre, with all proceeds going to Words for the Wounded. For more details: or 01494 630713.

I will put up more information in a couple of weeks.


Monday, 4 April 2016

The WforW LitFest Day on April 16th

By Margaret Graham

The WforW LitFest Day on April 16th 
 fast approaches.

The venue: 
Downley Community Centre, School Close, 
Downley, High Wycombe HP13 5TR.

The line up of speakers is incredibly exciting.

Elizabeth Buchan, one of our patrons and No 1 Sunday Times bestselling author, is our keynote speaker. She will kick off the day in what I know will be her usual hilarious and knowledgeable style. I will be in conversation with her, though whether I will get a word in edgeways remains to be seen.

She’ll be talking about I Can’t Begin to Tell You, her latest bestselling novel set in Denmark in the 2nd World War. Or she will if I have anything to do with it because it’s such a great book, and I want to know the background to it: the research, the characters, and how she actually writes. I wonder what she’s working on now? Well, we’ll find out.

We also have Jemima Hunt, the founder of The Writer’s Practice. Jemima is a writer, editor and literary agent and she’s going to explain about the importance of editing one’s work. It’s a really tricky thing to do so I will be listening hard. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from an expert, someone who might, in addition, be able to tell us what is likely to be the next big thing so we can get an inside edge on what we should be writing in order to be the next BIG bestseller.

This year we’ve carved out an hour and a half for lunch because chat and networking seems a vital part of our LitFest Day. Food, wine, and good conversation, what could be better?

Well, how about Tracy Baines, the doyen of the womens’ magazine short story? This whirling invigorating dervish will talk us through the ins and outs - not just of the components of short story writing - but how to write for a particular market. This of course will vastly increase the chances of selling the story and is  an invaluable guide for anyone wanting to tackle something shorter than a novel, or indeed, for someone who enjoys reading the stories in womens’ magazines. Have a look behind the scenes with Tracy, and see how it’s actually done.

* If you’ve always wanted to find out how to crack the short story market Tracy and Margaret are doing a Words for the Wounded Short Story Day Workshop in September 2016. We will be posting the details  in the summer.

Catherine Balavage,  actress, writer, blogger and owner/editor of the popular Frost Magazine is rounding off the day.

The WforW team is really thrilled that Catherine can spare the time in her busy life to support our LitFest Day, but then she is a massive friend of WforW, and this year, as last year, she is publishing the results of the Independent Author Book Award on June 6th. There will be a review of each of the top three books as well as the opportunity for each of the winners to write a feature for publication in Frost Magazine.

Catherine will be in conversation with Margaret and they’ll be talking about how to blog, how to create an on-line magazine, and about her three books: on acting, weddings and the burgeoning world of blogging. 

We are delighted that Paul Vates, actor and playwright will be reading excerpts of our speakers works.

It’s going to be a great day. Margaret’s kids and the lovely Josh will be beavering behind the scenes producing coffee, tea, cakes, lunch and heaven knows what. Let’s hope they leave some wine for the rest of us.  

A few LitFest tickets are still available for the WforW LitFest ( on April 16th 9.30 – 5.00. £35 to include lunch with wine.

Tickets available from: Words for the Wounded, 12 Woodcote Green, Downley, High Wycombe, HP13 5UN. Send a cheque made out to Words for the Wounded  and a SAE.

* As you are all aware by now the three grannies who run Words for the Wounded absorb all the costs of the charity, which enables every penny raised to go to the wounded.