Sunday, 28 October 2012

Writing news, and a hot tip for cosy toes.

After a quiet summer, some writing news. A couple of weeks ago I went to the University of Wales Trinity St David in Carmarthen, to read at the prizegiving of the Ifanca Helene James short story competition. I had a lovely couple of days, featuring a scenic train journey, a male voice choir, and lots of walking uphill (never down).
I also found I had been shortlisted for the Doris Gooderson short story competition, run by Wrekin Writers.

I have entered more writing competitions than usual this year. In part this was because I wrote several pieces as homework for the writers' group which were too dark or strange for the magazines I submit to. Next year I plan to enter less competitions. It's lovely to win anything, or be shortlisted, but I have felt for some time that I should be focusing on a bigger project. I have a couple of novel ideas, but neither of those seems to be happening right now. So I have decided to see if I can put together the short story collection on a theme, which I've been contemplating since last year. It seems more manageable within my bitty work schedule.

With two recent short story sales to My Weekly, I shall not be giving up magazine writing though. I find it an excellent antidote to my workaday world.

On a different note, I saw Willy Russell's fabulous show Blood Brothers this week. You can not imagine how wonderful it was to see 'Tell Me It's Not True' performed so brilliantly, after my hours spent trying to learn even the most basic version on the piano! All the cast were great, but I must give a special mention to Niki Evans. Apparently she was an X Factor contestant a few years ago. She was absolutely outstanding as Mrs Johnstone, the woman who gives away one of her twins so she can afford to feed the rest of her family.

Finally, with dark nights and chilly temperatures, how would you like to win some lovely socks? Librarian, who blogs at From My Mental Library, has a mother with a talent for knitting. She sells some of her products via an Etsy shop. To win a free hand-knitted item from the range on sale, all you have to do is visit Librarian's blog and leave a comment on the 'Cold Season Giveaway' post. I love socks so much, I can barely close my sock drawer. Count me in!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Ifakara Bakery Project Competition and Anthology: a guest post by Sharon Bradshaw

Today I am happy to introduce my writing friend Sharon Bradshaw.

Sharon is organising a writing competition to raise funds for a charity close to her heart.

I'm handing over to her now, to tell you all about it.

"I started to fundraise for the Ifakara Bakery Project Charity in 2010 when I met the organisers, Margaret and Eugene Schellenberg. They were giving a presentation about the work which the Charity was doing in Tanzania. It was difficult to listen to some of the things they were saying and to see the photographs of the hardship which the children, disabled and others, had to undergo. It's now a well told tale about Africa, but Margaret and Eugene had done something different. They built a bakery in 2001 which is currently run as a successful business by the local people and ensures that no-one need starve when there are problems with the maize crop, but there are still so many who have to survive without basic necessities.

They have continued to give Ifakara 'talks' and others have become involved in the fundraising so that the Charity is now able to provide additional money for irrigation, electricity, and education. There is an emergency fund too for when crops fail completely due to adverse weather. The Charity provides bread for the orphanage, nursery schools, hospital patients, those with leprosy and learning difficulties.

I have been a Solicitor since 1981 and started to write poetry a few years ago. I didn't realise at the time that writing can take you to so many different places, and I'm now running a writing competition to help raise funds. I asked David Howarth, editor of Park Publications, if he would support the project, which he has done by advertising throughout his magazines, Scribble and Countryside Tales.

I'm asking writers to send me their 'Hopes and Dreams' as poems or short stories with £2.50 per entry or £4.00 for two. A selection will be published by Park Publications in an anthology early next year. There's also prize money: £150, £75, and £25. I've managed to raise the prize money by various other fundraising activities and have had a stall at a local bric-a-brac fair to sell unwanted items, so that after the printing costs are paid all of the funds raised will be sent to Ifakara. The Charity does not deduct administration charges.

I would like to be able to help the children in Mhutanga to have clean water. Their school has grown from 30 to 90 children and has to be run on a shift basis. They have bread and a mug of sweet tea after lessons. Many of them have had to walk a long way to get to school, with little or no breakfast. Parents have then to walk a lot further to get the water for the tea as they cannot access good water where they are without a bore hole.

I've written articles about the competition for Writers' Forum and Writing Magazine and the entries have been coming in, but it would be lovely to receive more. An anthology for Ifakara would mean so much to the children, and you can help by letting me have your words before the closing date on November 30th, 2012. It's not yet the end of the story.

For more details on the work being undertaken please visit the Ifakara Bakery Project website. And for full details of the competition, please see the Park Publications competition page.

Thank you, Sharon, for sharing this with us. I do hope some visitors to Zigzag Road will feel inspired by your enthusiasm, and send in a story or a poem. Personally, I think it's refreshing to see how a small number of determined people can make a real difference to the lives of others.