Friday 24 February 2012

Sad Old Man - a short story.

My story Sad Old Man, which won 2nd prize in January's Writing Magazine competition began life as a 500 word monologue that I wrote as an exercise in an Open University Creative Writing course some time ago.

I've often recycled odd snippets worked on in a class exercise or as a warm up when I get writer's block, into something new. I might just use a character, a line of dialogue, or a setting and the original idea might change beyond recognition but keeping all those bits and pieces is invaluable.

Sometimes I look back at old work and cast a critical eye and see plenty of faults, but just occasionally I surprise myself by finding something that was fresh which stimulates a new story.

My story was published online here. It is also published in Greenacre Writers Anthology Vol 3.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Mslexia, Kiva and me.

I had some good news today. My second Kiva loan has been repaid so I was able to re-loan it to someone else.

In issue no 50 of Mslexia, there was a small article on p.24 about Kiva, a US based charity which administers micro-loans. People can lend as little as $25 to those in the developing world who are struggling to get a business off the ground, or expand it, but are unable to access conventional bank loans. This is not so much aid as enabling trade. I logged on to to discover more and made my first loan to a group of women in Senegal.

Each borrower - an individual or a group - requests an amount which is made up from any number of lenders - for example, a $1,000 loan might be from 40 lenders each lending $25, or just a few each lending larger amounts. The loans are managed by carefully selected ‘field partners’ in the relevant countries.

A few weeks after I made my first loan I learned that a piece I had submitted to the ‘Monologues’ section in Mslexia had been chosen by Val McDermid (clearly a lady of great taste and discernment) for publication in issue 51. I received a welcome cheque which I used to make a second Kiva loan to a group of women in Mali, a country I visited 5 years ago in my quest to see Timbuktu.

The e-mails from Kiva telling me the loans had been re-paid, the second just this morning, brought me great joy in the knowledge that I had helped to make a difference. I was able to recycle that loan immediately. Priscilla and Susan who are both aiming to expand their farms in Kenya are my current loan recipients.

Friday 17 February 2012

World Book Night 2012 - April 23rd

I'm so pleased to be chosen as a giver of books again this year. This time my book is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. My own copy is a bit battered having been read and leant out a couple of times.

The story of 9 year old Leisel, whose parents have been taken to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, is narrated by Death. Death will visit the book thief three times, but who is the book thief?

Last year's World Book Night launch in Trafalgar Square on March 5th was a fantastic experience, meeting fellow book enthusiasts and listening to actors and great authors reading extracts of their books and those of other writers aloud. It was bitterly cold, but was such a wonderful atmosphere, we didn't mind too much. This year it should be a bit warmer!