Monday 20 May 2013

Greenacre Writers Literary Festival: Two Wonderful Days.

Finchley in North London was the setting of the second Greenacre Writers Literary Festival with its theme of truth and fiction. Four events provided a literary feast for writers and readers.

Miriam Halahmy's workshop.
We kicked off with Miriam Halahmy's workshop 'So You Want to Write for Kids.' Held at the now world famous Friern Barnet Community Library, this event was open to all. Writers, some published some novices, came along to learn about writing for children and the kids' publishing world.

Fast on the heels of the workshop was our Open Mic. Facilitated by Allen Ashley, we were treated to a mix of literary styles with poems, flash fiction, extracts from fiction and memoir. The readings from Rosie Canning and Keith Martin related the story of the re-opening of Friern Barnet Library by the people as a protest to its closure by the council six months earlier. Poet Sarah Doyle took our star slot with a variety of poetic styles and we were also treated to 'star' readings from Miriam Halahmy, CJ Flood and Emily Toder from the USA.

Several members of Greenacre Writers read their work and we were joined by members from other writing groups including Clockhouse London Writers, Ways into Writing, Ally Pally Group and Exiled Writers as well as local poets. We had some amazing speakers, including short story writers, novel writers, poets, and activists - one of whom was 76, and provided us with a mix of literary styles and themes.

Saturday began with a morning workshop 'Life Writing and the Writing Life' led by Josie Pearse, followed by the main festival in the afternoon.

CJ Flood
We played host to four authors who were all wonderfully entertaining speakers, talking about about the truth in their fiction. CJ Flood's talk set the tone for the afternoon, discussing the truth and fiction of how she created her characters in her novel Infinite Sky with readings to illustrate her points.

Leigh Russell signing books
Crime writer Leigh Russell followed, thrilled us with a walk in the park that led to the inspiration for her first book Cut Short and introducing us to her psychological thrillers featuring detective Geraldine Steele.  

We then had short readings from four of our Greenacre Writers. Lindsay Bamfield began with the opening of her comedy novel, a work in progress, 'Do Not Exced Fifty' and Linda Louisa Dell read an abridged version of the first chapter of her recent novel, Earthscape: A Long Way from Home. Then came Rosie Canning's reading of The Flying Star episode from her novel, another work in progress, 'Ways of Remembering'. Mark Kitchenham closed the first session reading from one of his short stories.

Gina Blaxill
After a refreshment break and book signing session, we opened the second half with Gina Blaxill. Gina, who grew up in Finchley, talked about her two YA novels Pretty Twisted and Forget Me Never. Discussing how she created a world that her young readers could believe in, she explained how she compared the books she had read as a teenager, with what young readers want today.

Sarah Harrison
 Sarah Harrison, author of over 25 novels talked about the inspiration behind her novel Flowers of the Field which was published in 1980 but has just been re-issued with its sequel A Flower That's Free due to be re-issued shortly followed by the third in the trilogy The Wildflower Path later this year.

Three more readings from Greenacre Writers followed. Liz Goes read from the third of her fictionalized memoirs The Not Quite English Teacher, Mumpuni Murniati read her short story rooted in her native Indonesia and Wendy Shillam completed the section with a reading from her most recent novel, just completed the day before, The Vining Plant.

Truth and fiction panel discussion.
To close our day, Allen Ashley facilitated a panel comprising Sarah Harrison, Leigh Russell, Dr Josie Pearse and Alex Wheatle one of last year's festival speakers discussing truth and fiction. They questioned how much truth should there be in fiction? What things must we stay true to as writers? What does fiction teach us about truth? Our panelists gave us fascinating insights into their versions of truth and fiction and all agreed the importance of emotional truth. They discussed the writing process and what writers need to achieve for their readers. They inspired our members to keep on with our writing and we're happy to say that we've had enquiries from audience members about joining GW.

Alex Wheatle wasn't the only speaker from last year to be with us as we were very pleased to have Emily Benet and Andrew Bradford in our audience. They all made last year's event worthy of a sequel so thanks to them for this year's success.

We are also very pleased to announce that Alex Wheatle will be our judge for this year's short story competition.
Greenacre Writers 2013 Short Story Competition

All in all, we had a wonderful two days and extend our sincerest thanks to our guest speakers, our workshop leaders, our writers and all those who helped achieve a great event. Special thanks also go to Robert and Elizabeth Newton and Mr Greenacres. Thank you to Christine Freeman and Waitrose in Finchley for providing refreshments.

See you next year. But first, some of us have to Finish That Novel, which was where the Greenacre Writers story began.

Monday 6 May 2013

Greenacre Writers second Literary Festival

Latest news:    We are delighted to announce an impressive line up of speakers for our  Open Mic event at Friern Barnet Community Library, Friday 17th May at 7.00 pm. Come along to hear them. Entry is free but we will be collecting donations to help support our community library.

Take the opportunity to make a Blind Date With a Book.  A mere 50p will give you a quality  book to take home with you. You just won't know what the book is until you unwrap it.

Allen Ashley, the event facilitator will be reading from his work as well as introducing:
Rosie Canning (Greenacre Writers)
Hansden Chikowore (Exiled Writers)
Miriam Halahmy - Guest Author
Mike Gee (Greenacre Project)
Keith Martin (Greenacre Writers)
Sandra Unerman (Clockhouse Writers)
Fathieh Saudi (Exiled Writers)
Lindsay Bamfield (Greenacre Writers)
Dennis Evans (Poet)
Sarah Doyle - Guest Poet
CJ Flood - Guest Author
Gordon Peters (Ways into Writing)
June Armstrong-Wright (Greenacre Writers)
Linda Louisa Dell (Greenacre Writers)
David Nixon (Greenacre Writers)
Emily Toder - Guest Poet from USA
Peter Philips (Poet)
Eliza Jane Goes (Greenacre Writers)
Wendy Shillam (Greenacre Writers)
Ben Jacobs (Writer)
Allen Ashley

Greenacre Writers are delighted to confirm the authors who will be appearing at the Greenacre Writers Literary Festival:
Fri 17th May 4.30-6.30pm Friern Barnet Community Library, Friern Barnet Road, N11 3DS.
Miriam Halahmy will be running a creative writing workshop:

'So you want to write for Kids!' Creative writing workshop with author and experienced facilitator Miriam Halahmy. Miriam will offer vital insights into the world of writing and publishing fiction for nine years to teens as well as offering some writing starters to get the creative juices flowing. All levels welcome, just bring pen, paper and the energy to write! Miriam's website  Tickets £10.50

Miriam Halahmy has published short and long fiction for children, adults and teens, as well as poetry, book reviews and articles. Her debut Y.A. novel, Hidden, Meadowside Books, was nominated for the 2012 CILIP Carnegie Medal. She has published a second Y.A. novel, Illegal, Meadowside Books, 2012 and a third one is on the way. Miriam has run creative writing workshops for many years and is a mentor with Apprenticeships in Fiction, appraising manuscripts and guiding developing writers. Click here to Book Workshop 

Fri 17th May 7-10pm Friern Barnet Community Library 

Free event: Allen Ashley will be facilitating an Open Lit Mic:
Guest poet Sarah Doyle, CJ Flood and Miriam Halahmy will be appearing but this is your chance to shine too. We are opening slots to members of the writing community to showcase their work:

Our venue for these two events is the fantastic Friern Barnet Community Library, the People's Library, which was closed by the council but has been reclaimed by the community. Come and see why. 

Allen Ashley has published nine books as author or editor. In 2006 he won the British Fantasy Society Award for Best Anthology as editor of The Elastic Book Of Numbers (Elastic Press, 2005). Well known in the science fiction and fantasy arena, he is also a successful poet and wrote under a pseudonym for Time Out London for many years. Allen's website

Sarah Doyle’s poetry has been published in various anthologies, and in magazines such as Orbis, The Dawntreader and the Poetry Society’s Poetry News.  She has been placed in several national poetry competitions. She is Poet-in-Residence to the Pre-Raphaelite Society, for whom she writes commissioned poetry and acts as a judge in their Poetry Prize; and she co-organises, co-hosts and performs in regular jazz-poetry event The Sunday Edition at Enfield’s Dugdale Theatre. Sarah's website

Sat 18th May 11-12.30pm, Trinity Church Centre, Finchley, N12 7NN 

Josie O Pearse will be running a creative writing workshop.
'Life Writing and the Writing Life'. This workshop will look at practical techniques for writing from life. From planning what to write and how to begin, through to the deeper questions that help keep your writing on track. What is this about? Who is it for? Where does it end? And how do you fit your writing into a busy schedule? Bring questions, ideas, imagination, pen and paper.

Josie O Pearse has just completed a PhD at Cardiff University in creative and critical writing. She writes sexy romances under a pseudonym, Angel Strand, who has three novels published with Random House. Josie is also an artist and experiments in graphic stories. Tickets £ 8.50 Click to book Life-writing workshop

Sat 18th May 1.30-5.30pm, Trinity Church Centre, Finchley, N12 7NN
Entrance to festival is by ticket only  £5.50Click here to get your ticket/s for Greenacre Writers Festival


Sarah Harrison is the author of twenty five books and counting. She made her name with the bestselling The Flowers of the Field and its sequel A Flower That’s Free. Both have been reissued by Orion this year, with the third in the trilogy, The Wildflower Path, coming out in September. Sarah is also an entertainer, regularly performing in an all-woman revue, and winner of Silver Stand-Up’s Best Newcomer 2013. Sarah's website
Hailed as a brilliant talent by Jeffrey Deaver and 'a deeply human voice' by Peter James, Leigh Russell writes a bestselling series of psychological crime thrillers set in the UK. Cut Short (2009 was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award. Road Closed (2010) was voted a Top Read on Eurocrime. Dead End (2011) was voted a Best Crime Novel on Crime Time and was a Best Fiction Book of the Year in the Miami Examiner. Death Bed (2012) joined the earlier novels on the Kindle Bestseller list, reaching No 1 for female sleuths, and appearing in the Top 50 titles on WH Smith's Travel's Bestseller Chart. 2013 sees the publication of Stop Dead, the fifth tile in the Geraldine Steel series.  Leigh's website

Gina Blaxill's first novel for young adults, Pretty Twisted, was published by Macmillan, and is an e-book best seller. Since then she has also released a second novel, Forget Me Never, with a third, Saving Silence, coming out later this year. Gina grew up in Finchley, in North London and studied English at Cambridge University, where she specialised in schoolgirl fiction and took part in a lot of musicals. These days she works in schools liaison, helping teenagers figure out the mysteries of higher education. Apart from writing she enjoys drawing comic art and exploring London and has big soft spots for dogs, stately homes and fruit. Gina on Twitter

C.J. Flood graduated from an MA in Creative Writing at UEA in 2010. Her dissertation, a section of Infinite Sky, won the Curtis Brown Award for best student as judged by a panel of agents. She was a mentee on the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme, under Bernardine Evaristo, and a recipient of an Arts Council grant. Infinite Sky, her first novel, came out in February. The Telegraph called it "a powerful and impressive debut," The Guardian said it was "brilliantly visual and full of feeling" and The Times selected it as their children's book of the week. C. J. is currently working on her next novel, which will come out in February 2014.  
C. J.'s website

Sat 18th May 4.30pm, Trinity Church, Finchley, N12 7NN

There will also be a panel with mediator, Allen Ashley, as well as guests, Alex Wheatle MBE, Dr Josie Pearse, Sarah Harrison, and Leigh Russell. They will be discussing Truth and Fiction.

Award-winning author Alex Wheatle MBE will be appearing on the festival panel, and will be the judge for this year's Greenacre Writers Short Story Competition.  

Alex Wheatle is the author of several novels, some of them set in Brixton, where he grew up.

Born in London of Jamaican parents, his first book, Brixton Rock (1999), tells the story of a 16-year old boy of mixed race, in 1980s Brixton. Brixton Rock was adapted for the stage and performed at the Young Vic in 2010. Its sequel, Brenton Brown, was published in 2011. His second novel, East of Acre Lane (2001), has a similar setting, and won a London Arts Board New Writers Award. A prequel, Island Songs, set in Jamaica, was published in 2005, and a sequel, Dirty South, in 2008. Other novels include The Seven Sisters (2002), in which the scene moves to Surrey in 1976, where four boys escape from an abusive life in a children's home; and Checkers (2003), written with Mark Parham, was published in 2003. In 2010, he wrote the one-man autobiographical performance, Uprising.Alex Wheatle was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008. More about Alex.

Greenacre Writers will be donating a portion of ticket sales to Trinity in May sponsored charity.

Linked event:
Dickens in Victorian Barnet. 
Sun 12th May at 11.00am. 

Guided walk with Paul Baker. Learn about Charles Dickens' connections with Finchley and the Borough of Barnet as well as local history and a touch of Victorian scandal.

Meet at High Barnet tube station outside booking office.  Walks £8.00 payable directly to Paul Baker. Please e-mail  if you wish to join the walk. For more information see Paul's website