Engaging with Fellow Writers

April 30, 2018

During the past few weeks myself and fellow authors of The Watford Writers group have been engaging with other writers and readers as part of Watford’s Big Word Fest.  On the Friday evening of 20th April some of us read at an “Open Mike” event at Watford Museum and on Saturday 28th April a few of us exhibited some of our books and took part in a self publishing workshop at Watford Central Library.  Thanks to the staff at both venues and to those who took part, I had an amazing time.  I recommend that anyone visiting Watford should visit both venues which are open most days and are outstanding examples of their type.

Keith Jahans

 


Watford Museum

 

Watford Central Library

 

Self Publishing Workshop

 

More photographs can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/watfordwriters

 

 

 

 

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Graham Taylor: In His Own Words – a talk by Lionel Birnie for Watford Writers Group on 19 March 2018

March 20, 2018

Last night I attended an inspiring talk by sports journalist Lionel Birnie about how he went about ghost writing football manager Graham Taylor’s autobiography.  I have been staying in Watford for the past few months now and this was only the second time I had visited this writers group.  A number of the members knew Taylor personally so this was a very poignant and emotional occasion.  Taylor sadly died at the age of 72 on 12 January this year shortly before the book was published.  The book was written in the two years before his death and it was his family’s wish that Lionel and his editors proceed with the book project as they knew that it would have been what Taylor wanted.

Lionel gave an excellent account of his writing process which served as a splendid example to the writers present.  He told how he gave Taylor a notebook with several headings pertinent to his life and asked him to write down the thoughts that came into his head.  He recorded their many conversations on a small portable tape machine and went with Taylor to visit locations that were pertinent to his life.  He emphasised the efforts he made to make the book sound that it was written in Taylor’s own voice as he felt this was so important to Taylor’s family and Taylor himself.

Graham Taylor is an important figure to Watford, not just to the football club which he managed for two distinct periods, but the whole town.  This was indeed easy to see from the warmth of Lionel’s talk and by the way it was received by his audience.  I was so impressed by what I heard that I bought a signed copy, have added it to my increasingly lengthening reading list and plan to review it later this year.

Keith Jahans

Graham Taylor In His Own Words: The autobiography
is published by Peloton Publishing Ltd and is available in hardback for £19.99


Robots and Typing

February 20, 2018

I spent most of my working life in the years BC (Before Computers).  When I started work at a UK Government veterinary laboratory at the end of the 1960s there were no calculators; desktop and laptop computers had not been thought of.  Instead, we worked out calculations and wrote letters with pen and paper.  Then a typist would type up the results of our endeavours and copies were made as she typed (it was always a female typist) on carbon paper.

The ladies of the typing pool were some of the kindest, jolliest people I have ever worked with.  Sometimes I dictated my words into a cassette recorder and handed them a tape, but most of the time they had to decipher my scribbled handwriting and most could touch type faster than I could talk.  When I presented the thesis for my Masters Degree for one to type, I did not know that the G and F on the qwerty keyboard were next to each other so that when the word, “buffer”, appeared in my hand written script (and it appeared frequently because of the nature of my study) it came back as “bugger”.  A red faced lady apologised profusely but instead of simply erasing the offending word with correction fluid, she insisted on retyping the whole manuscript.  Then came the first computers and word processors and I guiltily typed out my own letters and reports.  Then came the demise of the typing pool.

Now the personal computer is as much of my life as a pen and paper once were.  I am slightly dyslexic so the built in grammar and spell checkers are a godsend.  But the human interaction with someone who most always presented the text in a manner more pleasing to the eye than I ever could is gone.  Most repetitive human actions now seem to be being replaced by robots.  Even driverless cars are appearing on the roads.  The world is advancing at a pace scarcely envisaged three decades ago.  On the surface it appears that we may have lost something along the way but I like to think that we can still keep the human touch alive with art, music, writing and humour that people have naturally built into their genetic makeup which machines can never replace.

Keith Jahans


Lest we forget

September 7, 2017

It is difficult for us of a different generation to imagine what it must have been like to live through the days of the early 1940s in Britain when the country was so nearly overrun by Nazi tyranny.  But I was so pleased when talking to my Mother over the past few months that she decided to write down her experiences of that time.  It is a powerful story tinged with sadness, humour and romance.  I have been fortunate to have been able to publish my own writings in recent years, so when I read what she had written there was no doubt in my mind that I should help her publish it.

I always knew she was a fine writer because of the letters she wrote to me when I was away from home as a child and again when I left to seek out a career as a young man.  Even though she left school at 14 she is a highly educated woman able to adapt to learning new skills, and this shows in her writing.  Thus, Peatmore Press is proud to publish her wartime story which is now available as an ebook on the Amazon Kindle store by following the link below.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

 

Read it here

 


Self Promotion

May 20, 2017

One of the biggest challenges an author has to face is to advertise his or her writing.  It often goes against the grain and in my case this is certainly true.  Writing is a lonely art and means that the writer is more than likely shut away on their own with whatever tools they use (pen, paper, typewriter, PC) and don’t emerge with a final product until it is felt that the time is right to show it to someone.

Leonardo da Vinci has been quoted as saying that Art is never finished, only abandoned.  This is certainly true of my written work as it goes through draft after draft until I feel I can take it no further.  So by the time I have finished with a manuscript and my book is published I can hardly bare to look at it again let alone discuss its creation with others.

But those who especially enjoy reading fiction are likely to be fascinated by the creative process, particularly if they are engaged by a particular writer’s work and want to find out more.  So about a week ago when I was given the chance to discuss my writing in an online interview I jumped at the opportunity, because not only did it give me a chance to demonstrate the motivation behind my writing process but it also provided me with a great opening to promote my books

Keith Jahans

The full interview can be seen at:

http://www.thecrazymind.com/2017/05/peatmore-press-interview-with-funder.html


Celebrating the Short Story

September 20, 2016

In August 2011 I published a blog about the rebirth of the short story (see https://peatmore.wordpress.com/2011/08/22).  Now it seems that this form of fiction writing is going from strength to strength.  The BBC is once more running its annual competition for its National Short Story Award and all this week the short listed stories are being broadcasted on BBC Radio 4 until Friday 23 September (http://tinyurl.com/hzbtokk).

In addition  the BBC Readings Unit have chosen some of their favourite Radio 4 short stories to listen to again (http://tinyurl.com/zrgva4y).

Not to be outdone Peatmore Press has launched my Kindle ebook short story collection, “New Beginnings” as a free download for 5 days beginning today.

NBcover

Go to http://amazon.com/dp/B00MTK5FAO or http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B00MTK5FAO to grab your copy.

Keith Jahans


Fiction and Lies

February 23, 2015

Fiction by its very nature is not true. Writing novels and short stories means writing lies. But for good fiction to work it has to be believable which means that it has to be a good lie.

In 2010 Peatmore Press published a police procedural crime novel, “Victim of Compromise”. The author took great pains to make the police procedures described in the story as accurate as possible but it is practically impossible to get every detail exactly right. Police and forensic methods change over time and between different forces. Many crime writers set their stories before the advent of technologies such as genetic finger printing and the widespread use of CCTV cameras to save the need to describe up to date modern forensic techniques. Indeed when writing such tales even when setting stories in the present day it is best to make it clear when and where the story is set particularly if you hope it will be read again in the future.

To celebrate this theme within fiction writing, Peatmore Press has posted the short story, “The Lie”, taken from its “New Beginnings” collection published in August last year, on its website. It is available to read for free at http://www.peatmore.com and there is also a link to it on the side panel of this blog. We hope you find it both enjoyable and thought provoking.